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I wrote an article in a L2 (English), with the target in my mind is not a native English speaker. My native English friend proofread it, and after fixing common mistakes like grammar or phrasal verbs, the article technically has no problems, except that there are unnatural parts. For example, here is my version:

Just like the air, language as a medium is rarely noticed when we use it. It needs to be embedded into our daily practice to be useful. But because of its transparency, we hardly see the problem.

Since English doesn't really have a concise way of referring to the phenomenon I'm thinking of, I have to write it in another way to make it sound natural to the native. A better version:

Just as we rarely notice the air we breathe, we rarely notice the medium of language as we speak. It must be embedded in our lives to be useful, but because it is as transparent and ubiquitous as air, we hardly see the problem.

Since my readers are not native English speakers (and it's likely that they are in the same level in English to me), will they find my version unnatural too?

  • This strikes me as a better question for Writers.SE. – Flimzy Aug 4 '16 at 14:46
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    yes, I went back and forth between two sides when writing this question, and eventually I think the learning aspect in the readers is more important – Ooker Aug 4 '16 at 14:56
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    The question I see being asked is "how will my readers perceive this?" which is a writing question, and not one about how to learn language. Is thers something more I'm missing? – Flimzy Aug 4 '16 at 15:00
  • yes, sorry. That's my old title when writing on Writers. My question is at the end of the post: Since my readers are not native English speakers (and it's likely that they are in the same level in English to me), will they find my version unnatural too? – Ooker Aug 5 '16 at 6:02
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This really varies by reader.

What is unnatural to someone varies from person to person. I don't see it being unnatural (English being my native language). Some might see it strange, others might think the sentence is beautifully written. Really, as long the sentence doesn't seem unnatural to you and seems to make sense grammatically and speaking-wise, it should be fine.

Of course, maybe ask friends and/or family to rate the "naturalness" of your sentence. But the responses may vary with some extra comments.

Extra: Try this:

Just as we rarely note the air we breathe, we never really notice the medium of language as we speak. It must be embedded in our lives constantly to be useful but due to its transparency, the problem might pass us by unnoticed.

  • that's strange. Theoretically you should see it's strange too, right? – Ooker Aug 6 '16 at 5:58
  • It maybe is strange to you but not to me and this opinion varies from person to person – Anthony Pham Aug 6 '16 at 13:12
  • Note can mean "to draw attention to something" or "to write something down", but is it ever used as a synonym for "notice"? How about the formulation, "Just as we are rarely aware of the air we breathe, ..."? – Christophe Strobbe Dec 8 '16 at 18:07
  • @ChristopheStrobbe Actually, note can be used for notice. – Anthony Pham Dec 9 '16 at 0:36

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