I'd like to ask everybody's opinion about 'mother tongue' and 'first language'. According to my copy of Oxford Advanced Learners, mother tongue and first language both refer to the language you acquire as a child and are most fluent in. When we use these words in everyday speech, do they include any connotations of race, culture and background? For example, if a person is Japanese does it necessarily mean that their mother tongue is Japanese? What about second and third (etc) generation immigrants who have lost the language of their parents?
Another question is, who do you call a 'native speaker'? Again, OAL says that a native speaker is one who speaks a language as a first language. I've always considered English as my first language simply because it's the language I'm most fluent in. But in my country English functions as a second language, and as a result I've never considered myself a native speaker of English.
What do mother tongue, first language, and native speaker mean to you? Does culture and society matter? Any random thoughts welcome :)