I was wondering if there is some research on the number of mistakes made by native speakers in certain languages? I think that since some languages are more complex (their grammar is more complex) and some are less it can be that native speakers of complex languages make more mistakes in their speaking and writing.

My native language is Russian, and I also speak English and French fluently. I see that average Russian people often make mistakes (wrong declension, wrong stress, wrong punctuation). And as I can see English and French people make less mistakes.

I think linguists should introduce some kind of an index of mistakes made by native speakers to measure complexity of a language.

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    Technically, native speakers can't make "mistakes" in their native languages. Jul 10, 2020 at 11:55
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    @ConstantinWerner , a literary form is a mere convention created from a notable dialect, it is not a "real" thing. So, every variant ofa language is equally important and has its own features that diverge from the artificial/old standard rules. Jul 10, 2020 at 16:41
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    Yes but everybody breaks the rules of their personal variant from time to time - we misspeak, we make slips...
    – rchivers
    Jul 10, 2020 at 20:42
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    @ErgativeMan Of course native speakers can make mistakes. Spoonerisms, slips of the tongue, Freudian slips, thinking about something else and accidentally producing a meaningless mixture of what you meant to say and what you were thinking about – those are all mistakes in speech and all perfectly common in native speakers. Even things like declension and conjugation can go awry in natural speech. There’s a difference between your native grammar diverging from a formalised standard, and accidentally slipping up and producing something that’s ungrammatical even to you. Jul 11, 2020 at 7:33
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    The mistake is assuming everybody has the same grammar. One man's mistake is another one's norm. The concept of "mistake" means "not talking like I expect you to", where everybody has their own opinion of what's correct to say in any context. At least you get the impression they think they do.
    – jlawler
    Jul 11, 2020 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


There is research by Jürgen Meisel on this topic, specially in the context of language acquisition by children. The main takeaway is that the kind of errors made by native language learners are different from the kind of errors made by second language learners.

Also note, that linguistically, spoken language is the gold standard. Mastering a written language that has a considerable distance to the spoken language is something very different. And it is "second language" to everyone, there are no "native writers" in a linguistic sense.

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