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Are there other ways to say "native speaker" which also allow a bit more flexibility as for when the speaker learnt that language?

A child of an immigrant family who moved to the US when he/she was 5, for example, who speaks fluent and flawless English now but English is technically their second language nonetheless should be called what?

I understand that I could still just call them a native speaker. But to me, and I don't know exactly what it is, but just something about the word "native" doesn't make it sound quite right, not wrong either, but I feel like there could be a better way to say it.

Something like a "fluent speaker" could do the job but it can also be used to describe someone who learnt the language as a completely foreign language and just became fluent in it, which makes it not appropriate for the purpose I'm trying to use the word for.

So by "flexible", I think I mean what do I call somebody who's basically been speaking that language for their whole life? Whether it was technically their first language or second.

Edit: I understand it’s not incorrect to consider this child a native speaker. But it’s that “not incorrect” part that made me ask this question. If I use the term “native speaker”, I feel like it kind of requires me to specify what I’m counting as “native”. So I was wondering if there was a term that would immediately let people know the level of flexibility I’m allowing/implying without me having to specify it

  • Fluent describes their familiarity with the language without reference to where they were born. – Chappo May 14 at 6:48
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I'm afraid this child is, in fact, a native speaker - since the language is already hardwired in his/her brain. I am aware that the word 'native' relates to origin by birth, but in the case of languages, the word 'native' is closely related to how deeply intrinsic the language is in one's life and culture.

  • I understand it’s not incorrect to consider this child a native speaker. But it’s that “not incorrect” part that made me ask this question. If I use the term “native speaker”, I feel like it kind of requires me to specify what I’m counting as “native”. So I was wondering if there was a term that would immediately let people know the level of flexibility I’m allowing/implying without me having to specify it – Min Andy Choi May 14 at 0:48
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    Unless you want to, it does not require you to specify what you're counting as "native". If the person in question speaks (albeit in an uneducated form) but perfectly in tune with the way the language is used in a specific region of the world, then the person is indeed a native speaker. If that wasn't the case, America (The United States), along with many other countries, would have to reason why they speak English natively (no pun intended) - perhaps the reason why there's no such word? This is a very lengthy subject that I'd fail to make a case of in a few words only. Sorry I couldn't help. – pilp May 14 at 2:54
  • So you're saying there's no such word. OK, that also answers my question. I wanted to know if there was such a word, and what that word is. But yeah I've been thinking about it for a long time but I don't think there is one either. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question! – Min Andy Choi May 14 at 2:58
  • You're welcome! – pilp May 14 at 3:13
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There are the language specific names such as Anglophone - fluent in English, Francophone - fluent in French. According to the OED these can be used both as nouns and adjectives. However they can be applied to non-native speakers as well, such as language teachers and students, translators and similar.

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