How important is the native tongue of other users you meet here to you?

Bear with me. I'll first write what this post is not about before I arrive at the actual topic.

I know there are some scammers who intentionally display the wrong language as a native tongue to attract potential victims. Then there are those who grew up bilingually or for instance grew up in a country where English is a national language but normally  not spoken at home but they believe that they can call themselves native English speakers, even though their English skills don't match the skills of native British or American English speakers for example. We discussed this already for instance here:

How many mother tongues can someone have? <a href="https://www.italki.com/discussion/138965" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">https://www.italki.com/discussion/138965</a>;

About native speakers, mother tongues and language proficiency <a href="https://www.italki.com/discussion/137465" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">https://www.italki.com/discussion/137465</a>;

My question is: How important is it to you that other users display their native tongue correctly in their profile?

Do you only contact native speakers of your target languages and terminate contact if you find out that they're not native speakers?

Do you get interested in other users because of the languages in their profiles?

I'm asking this because I sometimes get very excited to meet a speaker of a rare language, just to find out later that they either chose the wrong language by accident or in order to keep their privacy. Don't get me wrong, as I'm not looking for language exchange, I actually don't care what language other users on italki speak and when I correspond with someone it doesn't matter to me if the person is a speaker of one of my target languages or a completely different language or just has "other" displayed in their profile. But sometimes I jump at the chance to meet a speaker of a really rare language. The other day I saw the profile of a user that displayed a language that has less than 1000 speakers. I was intrigued and contacted the user. Unfortunately, it was an honest mistake by that user and they changed their language to their actual mother tongue which is one of the most spoken languages in the world... I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. 

Long story short: in general it doesn't matter to me what language other users speak but I'm disappointed if they display an indigenous or endangered language as native tongue in their profile and then it turns out that it wasn't true. I'm also a bit disappointed if someone has a rare language displayed as target language by accident. There are for example some people who choose "Japanese (Okinawan)" instead of "Japanese" by accident.

What about you? How decisive/important are the languages of people you meet here on italki to you?

May 5, 2019 10:07 AM
Comments · 24


There are scammers who pretend to be native English speakers. Native English speakers are very sought after, so it's easy to attract people if you say you're a native English speakers. Those scammers often pretend to be American soldiers (widowed or divorced), that are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and they're stunned by your beauty. They befriend lonely women and once a woman falls for them, they ask for money. See this for more information: <a href="https://www.army.mil/socialmedia/scams/" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">https://www.army.mil/socialmedia/scams/</a>;. Anyway, if an online friend asks for money, it's time to block them. They are either scammers or idiots who think they can use others as ATM.

May 5, 2019

I only mind if I'm doing a language exchange. I actually don't care if someone is a native, let's say, Spanish speaker when I decide to do language exchange English/Spanish but if I realise they lied I very quickly lose confidence that I can trust in what they are telling/teaching me. Though I do understand sometimes there can be misunderstandings or mistakes when choosing a native language.


May 5, 2019
I mean, how many "Chinese" speakers here also have "Chinese (other)" in their profiles or mention their dialect?
And how many of them actually know 2 or more languages?

May 5, 2019
Miriam, as for me, tendency of actual native speakers of such langauges to display their second (literary) langauge instead and don't even mention "other" is a greater problem.

May 5, 2019
A while back, this Spanish lady and I started to exchange messages.  The first question she asked me was if I was a U.S. soldier currently stationed in Iraq.  Her question caught me completely off guard.  I thought it was an odd and quite specific question to ask someone.  Then she explained to me that it was an on-going scam on language learning sites.  I answered her I was only a Nigerian prince.
May 5, 2019
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