What terms are used for a non-native speaker of a language? I found ネイティブスピーカー and 母語話者 but I want to know the Japanese words for a non-native speaker. Thanks.

  • The Japanese Wikipedia uses 第二言語話者 to mean literally 'a speaker of a second language'. I'm not sure however if this is commonly used.
    – Ambo100
    Oct 9, 2019 at 22:26
  • I needed to take French as a second language:「第二外国語」at University. Mais, Je ne parle pas Francais... Oct 9, 2019 at 22:46
  • English normally has been in school curriculum until high school. 英語 should be 第一外国語 for many Japanese. Since I was not taught English until Junior-High, I guess my first encounter to foreign language was 中国語 used in the movie of 酔拳: Drunken Master by Jackie Chen. Oct 9, 2019 at 23:05

2 Answers 2


Simply, you can use 非【ひ】ネイティブ or 非ネイティブスピーカー.

  • that answer is too simple :)
    – Jack Bosma
    Oct 9, 2019 at 23:13
  • 3
    @JACK But this is the answer to your simple question "what's the term for nonnative speaker?" :)
    – naruto
    Oct 9, 2019 at 23:23
  • almost sounds like hinative maybe a word pun.
    – Jack Bosma
    Oct 9, 2019 at 23:27
  • @JACK What kind of pun? Is this the first time you saw 非 ("non-")?
    – naruto
    Oct 9, 2019 at 23:34
  • 1
    Ah, a pun on HiNative.com and 非ネイティブ! :D
    – naruto
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:44

I would call a non-native speaker of Japanese [非日本語話者]{ひにほんごわしゃ}, though it might sound a little bit academic.

  • 4
    Uh, that’d be “non-Japanese speaker”. Did you mean 日本語非母語話者? (Not that I’d recommend that either given that it’s a mouthful) Oct 10, 2019 at 2:23
  • No, I didn't mean 日本語非母語話者. Although I googled and found 日本語非母語話者, it is awkward and mouthful as you say. I don't think 非日本語話者 is mouthful. Strictly speaking, non-Japanese speaker and non-native Japanese speaker might be different but could mean the same depending on the context.
    – canine
    Oct 10, 2019 at 3:44
  • 2
    A non-native speaker of Japanese is usually someone who can speak Japanese. They just aren't native. I wouldn't introduce myself as a non-native speaker of German, for instance, because I speak no German.
    – Leebo
    Oct 10, 2019 at 4:13
  • Thanks Leebo. Now, I've got it.
    – canine
    Oct 11, 2019 at 0:32

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