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  • AutorenbildTheresa Allsopp

Unpopular Opinion: Only Native Speakers Can Write Effective, High-Quality Texts.

Plus 5 Reasons Why You Need a Native English Copywriter for English Texts

reasns to hire a native speaker english copywriter

So, you need something written in English.


Maybe it’s a new homepage, a blog post, a social media advert, or a white paper.


You’ve typed ‘English copywriter for hire’ into Google and have looked at multiple copywriters offering their services, at varying prices. They all claim to be qualified, they all have projects under their belt, and now it comes down to how much they charge.


Or rather, how much you’re willing to spend to get your English copy.


Naturally, you want to get as much for your money as possible, so why not go for a cheaper option? But before you commit to anything, ask yourself one key question: are they a native English speaker?


The definition of a native speaker is someone who speaks a particular language as their first language since birth, rather than having learnt it as a child or adult.

Nowadays, there’s a culture of ‘anyone can do anything and be anything they want if they put their mind to it’. And I tend to agree; I believe people should pursue what makes them fulfilled and happy and is in line with their capabilities.


That’s the key phrase right there.


Before we get into the meat of the article, I feel the need to state a few disclaimers.


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Firstly, this blog will be with regards to English. However, my arguments can be applied to copywriting in any language.


Secondly, it goes without saying that there are plenty of non-native English speakers who are fluent in the language. In fact, you might well believe they have spent their life speaking it.


I am not saying that non-native speakers can’t be fluent.


I am not saying that they can’t produce excellent texts in English.


And I am not saying that they can’t successfully communicate.


What I am saying is that they can’t do it as easily and as well as native speakers.


This blog post is not intended in any way to detract from foreign language learners’ efforts and achievements. It is intended to argue that hiring native English copywriters to produce English texts is simply the smart thing to do for your business.


Perhaps now is a good time to reiterate what Daniel Throssell makes clear when talking about his infamous email exchanges on this very topic:


There is a difference between being “non-native” and “non-fluent”. Non-natives can be fluent. I have never denied this. But the overlap is extremely high, so I mostly use the terms interchangeably. If that offends you, well, stop being offended so easily.

(His words, not mine, I hasten to add.)


Thirdly, a good number of native speakers haven’t even mastered their own language. For example, they may struggle with spelling, grammar, or different forms of the language. And so another point I will make clear: I’m not talking about these people. By nature, they don’t tend to become writers.


Now, some professional copywriters will claim that you actually have an advantage in English copywriting if you’re a non-native speaker! My points below will dispel this claim pretty quickly.


However, their reasoning is that non-native speakers have had to learn the language from scratch, so they understand it better than native speakers who have never had to understand how our own language is structured etc. (There’s also a 98% chance that these copywriting ‘influencers’ are trying to sell their ‘Anyone Can Start Earning Thousands of Dollars a Week with this Copywriting Course’ course.)


To that I say: see my reasoning in the paragraph above. There are plenty of native English speakers who aren’t any good at English. But they don’t want to become writers. They’ll acknowledge that English isn’t their strength and go and do a career they are better suited to.

Non-native writers do not have an advantage over native writers. It is, I’m afraid, as simple as that.



So, if that’s all clear, then let’s dive into the 5 Reasons You Need a Native English Copywriter for English Texts.


 

1. Grammar and Spelling.


Let’s start with an obvious one.


Native English writers have a clear advantage over non-native writers here, especially as English is a particularly sneaky language in that it has a plethora of words with different meanings which sound the same but are spelt differently. From my experience of teaching English as a foreign language, even advanced non-native speakers mix up words such as ‘to’ and ‘too’. This distinction, however, is a no-brainer to native speakers.


On top of that, you have different US and UK spellings of the same words. Most non-native speakers will have learnt English either according to American spelling rules or British spelling rules, and therefore won’t be able to identify differences in spelling and when to apply different rules.


Native speakers (and especially British native English speakers) are far more in tune with this, as they are exposed to both variations of the words from a young age. They understand that ‘color’ is just the American way of spelling ‘colour’, or that British people spell 'socialising’ with an 's', whereas in America they write ‘socializing’. You definitely don’t want a copywriter switching between the two variations in the same piece of text.


Depending on whether your target market is an American, international, or British, this is something worth taking into account.


Grammatical errors such as improper placement of commas, issues with tenses, too-long sentences, problems with plurals etc. are far more common than you might think among non-native English copywriters. Take it from me; I’ve seen a fair few examples of writing where you immediately think:


‘That wasn’t written by a native speaker.’


Simply because of the little mistakes that native speakers don’t make.


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Please, just hire actual English native speakers to write your marketing emails.








Aside from the obvious point that bad English will make the reader’s experience worse which affects the credibility of your website/advert/post/paper/overall business, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes also negatively affect your website’s SEO ranking.



2. Efficiency.


Efficiency ties in closely to grammar and spelling. Hiring a native speaker is just going to be more efficient for everyone.


As it is, it’s common for texts written by a non-native speaker to be forwarded to a native speaker to edit or check if it sounds ‘native enough’ anyway.


So, save yourself time and hassle, and just go straight to someone who has the ‘feel’ for the language already. You will need fewer revisions, less back-and-forth communication, and won’t have to give such strictly defined guidelines as native speakers will be able to take more initiative because they have confidence in their abilities.



3. Feel for the language.


This is the main argument for hiring a native speaker over a non-native speaker for copywriting or copyediting.


A non-native English speaker may be able to produce error-free written texts. But as any good copywriter knows, there’s a good deal more to copywriting than just writing correctly. You need to be able to write well. You need to be able to connect with the audience on their level and communicate effectively with them.


How can you do this? By playing on words, using colloquialisms, inside jokes, and idioms. By making sure the text flows, and by being able to break the rules in the right way, if it serves the cause.


reasns to hire a native speaker english copywriter



Here's a great example of why you need a native speaker to effectively speak to a native audience. This advert by Tesco (a large British supermarket chain) is aimed at the British market. The clever pun at the end plays on the many different English counties ending in the suffix '-shire-. Most non-native speakers have most likely never heard of most British counties and therefore could never have come up with a tongue-in-cheek advertisment like this one.



the economist advert, english copywriter for hire in Vienna Austria.


Unless you're familiar with the saying 'to drink someone under the table', then this advert will be lost on you. It's a clever play on words which would certainly not come naturally to a non-native English speaker.



Native speakers will know when to use a formal tone, when to get a bit cheeky, when to make the language more complicated and when to tone it down. Formal doesn’t always equal better, but non-native speakers will tend to err on the side of formality, since that’s the format in which they (usually) learn a foreign language.


hire english copywriter in Vienna, why do I need an english copywriter






To 'pick up' has a few meanings in English and in this advert it can be interpreted in two different ways, one of which is very colloquial. It's this colloquial interpetation of 'to pick up' which is what makes this advert clever.








Choosing the right words is key: not all synonyms of words have the exact same meaning, and these nuances can’t be explained to a non-native speaker. If you read a text where it the writer appears to have swallowed a thesaurus or certain words just don’t sound quite right, then it’s probable that the writer is not a native speaker.


Small nuances of the language can seldom be learnt; they are acquired through living the culture. Which brings me on to…



4. Lived local knowledge.


Native speakers are going to have an advantage over non-native speakers when it comes to understanding their target market and the language they use. They know what will make their audience tick.


hire english copywriter in Vienna, why do I need an english copywriter

Another clever British advert. If you're not from Britain, this will mean absolutely nothing to you. And why would it? It's part of an ongoing and much-beloved advertising campaign by the eyewear company, Specsavers. (I encourage you to watch their TV ads on YouTube if you fancy a laugh, or a masterclass in marketing.) Even a native English copywriter from America would struggle to come up with this, because they have no knowledge of the place these ads have in British culture.


As an English native speaker who grew up in Britain, I will be able to understand aspects of the culture and society in Britain far, far better than a non-native speaker who has spent a few years living in London. And whilst I might not be quite so in tune with every inside joke in the USA, I can still understand the culture and linguistic norms across the Atlantic better than a non-native speaker who learnt a lot of their English by watching American TV shows.


I know that American advertising and British and European advertising approaches are very different. I know this because I have been immersed in the cultures since I was old enough to consume media. Non-native speakers, through no fault of their own, will most likely not have started to consume English-speaking media until they began learning the language at an older age in school.


This lived local knowledge that native speakers possess is especially valuable when it comes to localisation (to find out what localisation is, go to my Translation page). Inside jokes, puns, and wordplay are top-rate marketing techniques, because they're memorable, connect with the audience and make them feel part of a collective.


hire english copywriter in Vienna, why do I need an english copywriter
hire english copywriter in Vienna, why do I need an english copywriter
















Take these two adverts by Scottish Inns. Somewhat misleadingly, they are an American chain of motels known for being cheap and no-frills, as succinctly put by their logo: 'everything you need. nothing you don't.' The inside joke is that they don't have any of the fancy services that more expensive hotels offer, such as swan shaped towels or a porter service. You'd have to know that Scottish Inns are an economical company to appreciate the humour of them poking fun at themselves and other hotels.


Regional language use, too, is a great way to speak to a specific, local group of people. Take the word ‘tea’ as an example. Depending on where you live in England, ‘tea’ can mean either a hot beverage, an evening meal, or a small mid-afternoon snack eaten by the upper classes.

Non-native speakers rarely, if ever, learn about regionalisms. These things can of course be taught or learnt by living in the society, but knowing when to use the right words and cultural elements won’t come naturally to them.


5. Research skills.


Often overlooked, but a crucial tool in the writer’s toolbox, are research skills. Weak research skills lead to weak and uninformed copy, and nobody wants that.


Native speakers will most likely have studied and worked in their native language, thereby honing their research skills. They will know how to conduct thorough research, find the most relevant and reliable results, and interpret these results effectively. Native speakers can comprehend a text and then put it into other words without having to first translate anything in their heads or using an online tool.

On the other hand, non-native speakers will often rely too heavily on the source material to try to get the message across to the reader because they aren’t able to rephrase material as effectively. This can lead to instances of (unintentional) plagiarism and inauthentic copy.


 

So, now you’ve read my 5 Reasons You Need a Native English Copywriter for your English Texts. You've heard my take on why only native speakers can write high-quality, effective texts in their language. It's a controversial topic for some, but I don't think it ought to be. As I said, there's no shame in speaking, writing, and practicing a second or even third language. In fact, it takes a whole lot of courage.

But if a non-native copywriter is offering their services for a fraction of the price of a native speaker, ask yourself why.


At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

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