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When applying for English teaching jobs, I want to describe myself as a "native speaker of English who has an American accent" since most companies in Europe want native speakers to teach English courses and they usually have a preference for one accent or another (American, British, Australian, etc.).

What is the best term for this, e.g. "I am a...":

  • American native speaker of English (good?)
  • American English native speaker (good?)
  • native speaker of American English (best?)
  • native American English speaker ("native American" could be confused with being an American Indian)
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I'd stay away from using the words "Native American" unless you are a member of one of the many American Indian tribes. –  Zoot Dec 5 '11 at 16:48
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4 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

"American English native speaker" actually sounds a bit odd to me, though I am not a native speaker of American English myself.

I would go with "native speaker of American English", as I have just done. If you read nohat's full disclosure, he seems to agree.

Edit: I see that you have edited your question, so you seem to agree yourself now that "native speaker of American English" is the way to go.

One more thing: I read "American native speaker of English" as "someone who is a native speaker of English and lives in the US". That could easily apply to a native Scot who moved to the States.

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I agree that "native speaker of American English" is the best answer if you really want to say both "American" and "native English speaker". But it you say simply "American", I guess that it is implicit that you're a native English speaker. –  b.roth Sep 5 '10 at 16:17
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+1 yes, "native speaker of American English" is what sounded the best for me after writing all these out, and thanks for the link to @nohat's profile, if that's what he uses, that's what I'll use, he seems to be the Jon Skeet of this site. :-) –  Edward Tanguay Sep 5 '10 at 16:19
    
@Bruno I know many Americans who are not native speakers of English, e.g. many children of Americans growing up in non-English-speaking countries who hold an American passport just the same. Also many of the grandparents of children I grew up with were not native English speakers, and I'm sure many legal immigrants who are Americans today are not native English speakers. –  Edward Tanguay Sep 5 '10 at 16:22
    
@Edward Tanguay, yes, that's a good point. –  b.roth Sep 5 '10 at 16:55
    
@Edward Tanguay Don't forget we're talking about English teaching jobs though! :D –  user706 Sep 5 '10 at 17:01
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Your question is a little confusing. You ask for the term referring to a "native English speaker who is an American," and that doesn't quite describe the same category of things as a "native speaker of American English." It's worth noting that the term in your question, "native English speaker who is an American," does, I assume, describe what you're wanting to describe, so I wonder why you just don't go with that.

Horace said, "I strive to be brief and I become obscure." I think that the struggle between brevity and obscurity is part of the difficulty here, especially because graceful brevity usually signifies a beautiful expression. Sometimes, though, the requirement of accuracy messes with brevity or beauty. But I acknowledge that other requirements might be important in your case.

Finally, it might be helpful to know what you mean, precisely, by American English. Take, for example, a man raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a young woman raised in Santa Monica, California: they'll both speak American English, but not with the same dialect. Certainly, native speakers of American English wouldn't think so.

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Agreed. I for example am both American (I have US nationality) and a native speaker of English (learned it on my Daddy's knee) but I am not a native speaker of American English. I was raised in a non-English speaking country by an American father, but my accent/vocabulary has been formed by a variety of influences and the end result is not pure American English. I am therefore an American native speaker of English but not a native speaker of American English. –  terdon Feb 27 at 15:37
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Our home dictionary proclaimed to be of the American language, but I feel that is overstating the differences. What we speak is a form of English, since it shares the majority of the words and structure.

Your question is what to call yourself depends on who is asking. "I am an American" usually works if you are white, but if you aren't, some folks want more of an explanation. In China, were I taught, Americans with Chinese heritage were called "overseas Chinese". If you are trying to secure a teaching or translating job then use "native English speaker from America."

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It sounds to me that you are "an American, with English as a mother language".

You could therefore say that you "have American English as your mother language" or you could say that your "mother language is American English".

Freely substitute "mother" with "native" and substitute "language" with "tongue". Therefore, all the following are valid:

  • "an American, with English as a native language"
  • "have American English as your native language"
  • "native language is American English"
  • "an American, with English as a native tongue"
  • "have American English as your native tongue"
  • "native tongue is American English"
  • "an American, with English as a mother language"
  • "have American English as your mother language"
  • "mother language is American English"
  • "an American, with English as a mother tongue"
  • "have American English as your mother tongue"
  • "mother tongue is American English"
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