Proficiency in Input and Output: Fossilization
<<In that case, it would really be good to define native speaker wouldn't it? Because we are talking about people in the process of learning a language and we are dividing them into 2 groups: native speaker and not. What steps could, perhaps, I take to ensure that I learn like a native speaker instead of like a non-native speaker?>>
I think to learn like a native speaker requires an extensive period of experimentation with correction.
After all, when we learn our native languages, we are allowed an extensive period of experimentation. It doesn't matter that we're not perfect; we go ahead and try anyway, and if in the process we mangle our irregular verbs and confuse our tenses, this isn't seen as a disaster. We are simply gently corrected for as long as it takes until we no longer do so. Along the way, we start acquiring our "intuition" for what sounds right and is grammatically correct.
If we could learn another language in a similar fashion, we might indeed start learning like native speakers.
I do wonder sometimes why we don't.
Somehow not much of this type of learning seems to apply for a second language (at least one learned later in life); the period of experimentation with correction starts rapidly shrinking, and a similar level of tolerance is not always extended if we happen to mangle our tenses. But we're still expected to rapidly improve anyway, especially once we've been provided with a formal list of what goes where, and maybe some irregular constructions to memorize.
And had we attempted to learn our native languages that way, the whole concept of "native speakers" would probably go down the drain...
I don't think it's possible for one to not acquire a native language unless one is not exposed to language at all, or only minimally. Young children have a different brain structure which allows them to rapidly pick up language from their surrounding environment with no need for active teaching. This is what separates native speakers and non-native speakers. The time of acquisition of the language. However, I think that it is possible to reach the level of a native speaker without actually being one, but that it takes much more time and effort to reach that level in a language as an adult.
"I don't think it's possible for one to not acquire a native language unless one is not exposed to language at all, or only minimally."
Sorry, this first sentence appears to be a bit mangled. Is it possible that you can reword it?
>>"Young children have a different brain structure which allows them to rapidly pick up language from their surrounding environment with no need for active teaching. This is what separates native speakers and non-native speakers. The time of acquisition of the language. However, I think that it is possible to reach the level of a native speaker without actually being one, but that it takes much more time and effort to reach that level in a language as an adult."
I'm actually somewhat doubtful about this. For one thing, through explicit instruction, foreign language learners are actually at first picking it up at a much faster rate than young children being exposed to massive input (if you look at it in time scales). If you look at, for example, that it takes 2 years for a child to begin to say their first word (not counting the time in the womb), but by 2 years a foreign language learner is at a bit better position.
Additionally, I do know of some counterexamples to this, such as an adult (a native Spanish speaker) who came over to America at age 19 and over the next few years picked up English (she lived with her English-speaking husband). She did not live with Spanish-speaking friends or spent all her off time chatting away in Spanish, bickering about how annoying the Americans were. She was more or less stuck interacting almost exclusively in English (aside from communicating with her other relatives).
I think a lot of foreign language learners try to assume too much that they're in the same environment as a native speaker starting out, and for some reason they assume the native speakers have limited input. I never bought into the poverty of stimulus argument, as from day to day being out and about a native speaker is exposed to a massive amount of input in their community's language, and it goes on for months and years as they pick it up more and more. On the other hand, a foreign language learner considers an hour's study to be exhausting.
Even if the parents won't talk to the child at an early age doesn't mean that the child is not getting massive input. When the mother goes out to the shop or what not, she's going to either bring her infant with her or have somebody watching it. (I doubt there is any society that regularly practices leaving their infants at home unattended by anyone.)
<It is the correct form. I think you may have missed the more detailed part of my post--I'm sorry I didn't make it clearer. I was referring to native speakers hypercorrecting that to something like "The dog bit Bob and I [sic]," which is incorrect, but is a result of native speakers have it pushed in their head of making sure to put the first-person pronoun at the end of the list and changing it to "I." Since it is often the inclination for native speakers just to say "me and Bob" in any circumstance, they forget to distinguish just which ones they are supposed to change to "I" for. >
Indeed I had missed your point, sorry.
I didn't know native speakers did that type of mistakes. I guess that hypercorrection might be linked to the fact that the phrase is a couple of pronouns (or noun + pronoun) linked by "and", and that the phrase kinda becomes a "set phrase" in that configuration. I don't think any native speaker would say "The dog bit I". So it's linked to the structure NOUN/PRONOUN + AND + me/I. So I agree with you concerning the hypercorrection.
>>Among native speakers, the biggest I've seen has to do with the use of the first person pronoun, such as "He talked to Bob and I [sic]," which is technically incorrect, as it should be, "He talked to Bob and me." But this seems to be the result of a chain of events leading from prescriptively incorrect usage of compound pronouns as a subject. Native speakers have a tendency to say things like, "Me and Bob are getting ready to go to the store," or, "Me and her went shopping," which, knowing the prescribed rules for pronouns, is technically incorrect, but it still sounds natural and many native speakers violate it. In elementary school, we were taught that in such cases the pronoun was supposed to be "I" and that it was supposed to go last (because, for some reason, the first person pronoun is always supposed to come last in compounds--I guess for humility reasons). Well, people overgeneralize it, and when they attempt to hypercorrect, they also incorrectly apply it to objects, which call for the use of "me" as opposed to "I."<<
The matter is this - when it comes to correct usage amongst native speakers, you should throw absolutely everything you were taught about a given language, outside of a purely linguistic context, out of the window, whether you yourself are a native or a non-native speaker (or just a non-speaker altogether). A very large portion of what you have been taught is probably just plain wrong in reality (rather than in the imaginings of prescriptivists and, in this case, English teachers). And this is one of those cases.
The matter is that the nominative case pronouns in English are really only mandatory for *sole* subjects and vocative constructions. Outside of the prescriptive construction "so and so and I", which has been unfortunately internalized by many, when one has a coordinate construction as a subject in everyday speech one actually generally switches to using oblique case pronouns rather than nominative case pronouns. For instance, one practically always says "me and my friend are ..." and not *"I and my friend are ...". It is just that these are cases that the prescriptivists have overlooked for some reason and thus which actually reflects natural usage in English for the vast majority of the population. (Of course, there are exceptions to this, for instance "her and her friend are ..." and "she and her friend are ..." seem to both be in active use in everyday speech, even though I myself still find the former to be more natural.)
Forget what I was saying about vocative constructions above, as the only pronouns which you can really use for vocative constructions don't have clearly distinguished nominative and oblique forms in most dialects of English today.
(I was really confusing vocative constructions with nominal composition where the composed noun is part of a single subject, which does show up in formal and poetic usage, and in which one would normally expect nominative case. However, such constructions generally do not appear in everyday speech to begin with.)
"The matter is this - when it comes to correct usage amongst native speakers, you should throw absolutely everything you were taught about a given language, outside of a purely linguistic context, out of the window, whether you yourself are a native or a non-native speaker (or just a non-speaker altogether). A very large portion of what you have been taught is probably just plain wrong in reality (rather than in the imaginings of prescriptivists and, in this case, English teachers). And this is one of those cases."
I was reading a website where it was stated that because of this, Chomsky's hypotheses have to be wrong. To an extent, I agree with this. Consider for example that Chomsky's theories often analyze the formal, proper, prescribed speech of English, but discount the messed up use of English speakers. On what principles of universal grammar can using objective case pronouns in place of nominative case pronouns still sound "right" to native speakers and fit? How about there in informal English actually existing cases where the subject can be omitted because it is understood? (Check the following sentence.) Must be quite interesting right?
I think they need to sit down and look at plain, informal, and vulgar speech and see if they can't make universal grammar fit it. They spend too much time looking at proper, formal speech, which is taught, not acquired naturally. A lot of the picky little rules in formal speech are not naturally followed; they are prescribed and taught and learned. I think they think too much of language as being a mechanical, mathematical, and syntactical thing, and they forget that in reality it's quite idiomatic. In fact, I was reading an article that mentioned grammaticalization, a process whereby idioms develop into grammar, an interesting term:
I know that in Japanese, the complex system of honorifics has to be taught--It does not appear to be acquired naturally. In fact, when native speakers go to work in customer service jobs, they are sent to schools where they learn to use the honorifics properly.