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How to Judge who wrote article

writing content



4:06 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I was browsing through the threads on this forum and couldn't help but notice one thread in particular which warned against hiring Non-Native speakers when outsourcing article writing jobs. The thread was a major factor in causing me to register an account. I have the following question. If a person's grammar and spelling are correct, how do you judge if they are non-native or not? Here is a paragraph from an article written by a non-native speaker. I, for one, cannot tell if the writer is non-native or not simply by reading the paragraph. Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

"Some athletes suffer from a condition known as overtraining which could be misdiagnosed as depression. Overtraining does not require anti-depressive drugs. Instead, it requires rest and proper nutrition. Recovery may require from two weeks to two months depending on the degree of overtraining."


4:13 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You can't tell.

However I don't see how that is relevent to someone advising care when hiring a non-native speaker. It requires care, because someone for whom the language in which they write is not their primary one, even when they speak the second language extremely well, can easily produce grammatically correct but stilted, old-fashioned or non-colloquial writing. It's technically correct, but the tone or style is wrong.


5:59 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Correct me if I am wrong, but you claim that the writing may seem stilted, old-fashioned, and non-colloquial, but at the same time you say the person "speaks the second language extremely well." I am assuming you mean they speak the language well from a grammatical point of view. Is that right?

The other question is Does my writing seem to be stilted, old-fashioned, and non-colloquial? English is not my mother tongue. But I should state that I have grown up studying in an American Institution. Again, insight would be greatly appreciated.


12:23 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think it also depends on the audience you're writing for and the language used. One can have perfect "English" but it can sometimes be the "wrong" English.

To me as a Brit, the example paragraph you gave says "American" and I would have said that even if you hadn't disclosed you studied at an American Institution.

An example of this hit home recently when I bought some books from Amazon. For some reason, they sent me versions printed for the US rather than for the UK. The language and spelling differences were quite surprising and annoying respectively, and the author's original British English had obviously been changed quite substantially to use American terms and spelling.

edited to add: I've just re-read your post, and it seems you didn't write the example paragraph, but whoever did also learned "American" English :)


1:04 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am assuming you mean they speak the language well from a grammatical point of view. Is that right?

Yes, that is what I meant.

may seem stilted, old-fashioned, and non-colloquial

May implies "or may not" and that was what I intended.

Anyone can produce poor or inappropriate writing, whether they are native speakers of a language or not. It's just a little bit more important if you are using a non-native speaker to be satisfied, in advance, that their style of writing, as well as its accuracy, is suited to the job.


1:29 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have grown up studying in an American Institution

This line of yours might be seen as being a little awkward since an institution can be used to refer to anything from a school to an insane asylum. The TV show 'Gunsmoke' is an American institution for example.
University or college might have been a more natural choice.
I don't think institution would be capitilized in the way you are using it either.
"I have grown up studying" seems a bit unnatural as well. "I grew up studying" might be better but it still makes it sound like you spent your entire childhood in some kind of institution.
And you probably meant a university in the U.S. as opposed to all of North America (Canada, Mexico), but that is getting really pedantic.

The other question is Does my writing seem to be stilted,

No need to capitalize 'Does' in this sentence.


3:00 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

As with Axgrindr, the only sentence you have written that would make me think 'non-native' is the sentence "I have grown up studying in an American Institution".

I would also have to disagree with the relationship of 'speaking a language well' to 'being grammatically correct'. I tend to feel that most spoken language is not grammatically correct. In fact, generally when you write what someone has spoken it would tend to violate certain grammatical rules. Spoken language is generally more relaxed than written. (P.S., I am terrible at grammar. I tend to write to what 'sounds' right versus what is grammatically correct.)

I would also add that even written language varies based on the target audience. That is, a textbook/technical article would have a certain tone, and that would be different than a lifestyle article, business article, etc., etc.

Overall, you cannot tell the origin of a writer if they write well. Having seen examples of bad writing by non-native writers, it can sometimes be quite obvious - and of course, the classic example being 'All Your Base Are Belong to Us' ;)

Also, if you show examples of well-written articles to potential clients, your location and whether you are native to the language or not would tend to become irrevelant.


8:52 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I know a lot of non native English speakers who make less mistakes in grammar and spelling then GWB. So being a native English speaker doesnt mean all that much, even if you did go to Yale and Harvard and are president of the US. ;-) :-) :-)


6:30 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sometimes it does get pretty bad. Try this one on for size:

First and foremost you need to determine your budget because if you have allotted one to the accommodation then that is the place to fast your search.

I was supposed to pay for that.


6:45 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I was supposed to pay for that.

But looking on the bright side, at least it probably wasn't plagiarized. :)


6:54 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Now, I can heave a sigh of relief.


6:11 pm on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Just to put a fine point on it, you may get someting like a piece that took me about 20 minutes to write and is exemplary of much of what you can expect from outsourcing articles. You may have seen some samples that pass muster, but the provider of the service outsources, in turn, and things can get mangled.

The keyword here is "bad writer". The scary thing is that the peice has no mispellings or grammatical/syntax marks in MSWord.

Here we go:

Bad Writing – Is There a Cure and What Can be done to Cure it?

There are many people out there who have bad writing habits and who are suffering badly daily from the fact that they do not have the ability to do good writing if, and when, they need to do good writing. There is so much you need to know about bad writing and there are many places you can look to see if you can improve yourself into a good writing style that will help you do good writing on a continuing basis daily, even though you may feel you cannot write very well at the time.

More About Bad Writing

You do not need to feel embarrassed about your bad writing as there is much help that you can get if you are willing to look for better improvement in the right locations. You must try to be patient because it may take longer than you think to find the right place to go, since good writing is hard to learn and may take lots of time to know what to do to improve your writing skill. There are lots of people out there who have had your problem too, and many of them have found the way to do good writing with hard work and learning about the right locations to look for help.

Do not become discouraged because there are lots of ways for you to go if you are only willing to spend the time to do research to find out how to go about the business of making yourself a good writer at any given time and place. Regardless of whether you are a good writer or a bad writer, you are going to want to make sure that you make yourself as knowledgeable and informed as possible in regards to the matter of bad writing, so that you know what you are talking about and are aware of everything involved here and you won’t be afraid.

If you think you do not know where to go not to be a bad writer, you can look in many places. Just understand that there is a tremendous amount of help available and you do not have to feel in a hopeless condition every day. One thing you can do is speak to someone, an individual person, who is in possession of excellent knowledge and ability about being a bad writer. This may help you find out the things you need to learn not to be a bad writer if you are willing to learn and practice to be a good writer on into the future.


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