You know you’re fluent when…

Ok, as my faithful readers know, I’m a linguist. And I’ve posted before about how to measure fluency in a foreign language.

But I skipped one really validating measure of fluency, which is when someone mistakes you for a native speaker! I don’t often get mistaken for a native speaker, or not for very long. All it takes to give me away is one awkward turn of phrase, one clumsy pronunciation, or one struggle to understand something a native speaker would have no trouble with. Even the tone of voice I use might sound a little off.

But the next best thing is being mistaken for almost a native speaker. That’s when someone knows you’re not a native speaker, but they think your Spanish is so good, there must be some explanation. So they start doing their detective work trying to figure out why you sound so good. They’ll ask where you were born… where you grew up… if your parents are native speakers… and so on, trying to solve the mystery of your amazing Spanish.

That’s a good sign you’re fluent… and anytime it happens, it makes my entire week!

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