21

Is there a single word for someone who is a "native English speaker" (or more generally, for native speaker of language X)?

There are single words for people having given nationality (like Englishman), believing in given religion (like Christian), so why shouldn't there be a single word for describing such important phenomena as being native speaker of some language?

17

Xophone (Anglophone, Francophone, &c.) is used by people who require such things; but these terms are not in ordinary parlance. It appears that even the most anxious Nativists don't use it: a search of U.S.English.org, which bills itself as "the nation's oldest and largest non-partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States" doesn't yield a single hit on Anglophone.

We employ the adjective "English-speaking", and if pushed we'll call ourselves "English speakers"; but the fact is rather taken for granted than proclaimed as a point of pride. No doubt it's a sign of Anglophonic arrogance, but "being a native speaker of" English doesn't seem to need a label, at least to those who might bear it.

5
  • 5
    What language do you speak if you're a xylophone? Feb 1 '13 at 19:01
  • 3
    Those two words are commonly used in Canada, for obvious reasons. Feb 1 '13 at 19:50
  • 2
    @BarrieEngland The only plausible meaning for xylo in this case is "Tree". It's a serious abuse of the languue though, because while some species release chemicals to warn others that they're being attacked by pests none of them engage in verbal communication. Apr 30 '13 at 19:11
  • 3
    I suspect that English-only proponents in the US don't use "Anglophone" because they're afraid it would sound like they wanted everyone to use BrE. (And because they don't need to. After all, if God hadn't intended for everyone in the world to speak English, he wouldn't have written the Bible in it. (Disclaimer: the foregoing is a joke, meant to illustrate the levels that English-language chauvinism can sometimes reach. It is not meant to imply that the Bible was in fact originally written in English, to confirm or deny divine intervention, or to invite any sort of theological debate.))
    – Evelyn
    Mar 18 '15 at 1:50
  • 4
    Blogger Alexander Volokh pointed out that "anglophone" comes from the Angles, one of two prominent German tribes that settled in Great Britain in the 5th century (giving their name also the largest part of the island, Angle-land, eventually "England"), but the other tribe, the Saxons, was actually larger and more influential, so by rights, we English speakers should be known as "saxophones". Oct 1 '16 at 18:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .