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Never believe a native speaker.

I disbelieve by default anything anybody says about their own language.

• Sometimes a native speaker will tell you what a word means, and that it means only that — but you can plainly hear the same word used in other ways, too. Sometimes he or she will tell you that two sounds are the same, or different — when you can hear that they're not.

• Most people seem to believe that their language is more difficult than yours. There's no sense trying to disabuse anybody. It's probably just an expression of cultural pride.

• In the earliest stages of my Romanian, I asked a friend about the word "o," because I'd it seen in print but had not found it in my dictionary. He said it's not a word. He didn't try to explain why it's a common part of a sentence; he just said that it's not a word. It's one of two definite articles — a cognate of "a/an." It's one of the most important words. Its usage is complicated — but it's not "not a word."

Never trust a native speaker and stay away from the bilingual.

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