What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

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What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby Logomachist » 2011-12-13, 3:48

Native Esperantists! What do you think of your upbringing in Esperanto? Would you teach your children Esperanto as a first language?

We were debating the ethics of teaching children conlanguages on another board, and I wanted to get some input from people who lived through it.

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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby linguaholic » 2011-12-13, 6:58

I'm not a native Esperantist (I don't think we have any here), but I don't see anything wrong with it. Children raised with Esperanto usually live in families where it is spoken as a home language and they usually pick up the language of their surroundings and their parents' native languages as well. What's unethical about that?
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby razlem » 2011-12-15, 5:59

What's the argument for the unethical stance?
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby johntm » 2011-12-15, 6:01

I don't think it's unethical, just stupid. But I'm not the biggest fan of Esperanto.
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby Silent_Shadow100 » 2012-03-22, 3:15

I would say that it would be hard to survive if it was their only native language, unless there became a town/city that spoke Esperanto as a main language.
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby Midnight » 2012-03-22, 9:17

From my POV if there was no Babel and there would be one protolanguage. It would split and dialects would arise and in the end, the situation would be the same as now. For example if everybody spoke Esperanto, in hundred years or more there would be the Fundamenta Esperanto spoken on the news and tens of dialects around the globe. Back to the topic. It's not a bad idea to bring your kids up in Esperanto, but I'd rather suggest a bilingual upbringing. First off native Esperantists would have hard time learning more complex languages and the second, they would probably speak so fast we wouldn't be able to keep up with them. :D

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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby Bao » 2012-03-22, 15:46

What disturbs me most is the thought that parents rising their children with Esperanto as the main language must consciously choose to do so. Why would they choose to teach their children a language that is not a community language, not a heritage language, and not even practical at this point in time? My answer is: to prove a point.
And that means it's all about the parents' ego. I know that much of what's being taught to children at the moment is about their parents's ego, and a lot of it doesn't really harm their children.

There's this one thing about punks and drop-outs where I live: Their children look 'normal'. And often the parents decide to conform more to society's standards as well so that their children aren't singled out by their peers for their parents, either. Why? Because those parents do not want to force their way of living on their children, they want to raise them to be independent people able to decide for themselves.
I don't expect the same consideration from ultra-orthodox people. But I do expect it from esperantists.

More than that, raising a child with Esperanto as the dominant language would make it dependant on the Esperanto speaking subculture, and as AFAIK it isn't big enough to form a functioning autonomous culture, it would make the children very dependant on their parents. I consider that and the way it would deprive children of chances as harmful.

Of course, adding Esperanto as the second or third language would a different question altogether. My stance on that is: Do it, if you can make it work. (Meaning, if you can provide enough positive incentive for your children to actually learn and use the language.)
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-03-22, 18:13

Bao wrote:What disturbs me most is the thought that parents rising their children with Esperanto as the main language must consciously choose to do so. Why would they choose to teach their children a language that is not a community language, not a heritage language, and not even practical at this point in time? My answer is: to prove a point.

Or maybe because it simply happens to be their household language? All the cases of denaskuloj that I've heard about, the parents were Esperantists of different backgrounds who often had no other common language apart from Esperanto. Even if one (or even both) later come to learn the dominant language of wherever they end up settling down together, they will still almost certainly be more comfortable communicating in Esperanto.

It's exactly parallel to the situation of, say, two Germanicists of different backgrounds with German as their common language even though they may natively speak, say, Spanish and Turkish respectively. Say one of them finds work in Liège and they end up settling in Belgium. They still speak German in the home, so this is naturally the first language their children learn, even though it is "not a community language, not a heritage language, and not even practical at this point in time".

(Or maybe German is too inherently "practical" a language for this analogy to work for you? Then simply make them investigators of something a bit more obscure, like Mongolian or Malagasy.)
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby bartlett22183 » 2012-03-22, 20:35

Perhaps we might stretch things and refer to a "first language" and "co-first language." There was once someone in the USA who was active on other auxlang fora (who for perfectly legitimate reasons of his own no longer is) who spoke Esperanto to his children from their birth, while his wife spoke English to them. Thus, the children spoke both languages. (There are many children who grow up with two languages.) As long as the children spoke "native" English in the USA, they had no problems, but they also had no problems being at the same time denaskaj esperantoparolantoj.

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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby Bao » 2012-03-22, 20:41

Do you believe any responsible parent would let their children learn Esperanto natively as it is their household language and not make sure to teach them the local community language to a comparable degree?
Apart from that not too fond of the idea of raising children using mostly a language that's neither the native language of a parent or a caregiver the child has a strong bond with, or that is the local community language.
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-03-22, 20:50

Bao wrote:Do you believe any responsible parent would let their children learn Esperanto natively as it is their household language and not make sure to teach them the local community language to a comparable degree?

In fact, this is exactly what experts recommend if you want to raise a child bilingually. Once a child discovers that their parents both understand the community language, they generally abandon attempts to speak the household language. Unless the child is completely prevented from interacting with peers in the community (and that would be grounds for reproaching the parents), they will end up learning the community language regardless what is spoken in the home.

Bao wrote:Apart from that not too fond of the idea of raising children using mostly a language that's neither the native language of a parent or a caregiver the child has a strong bond with, or that is the local community language.

It begs the question to assume that someone lacks "a strong bond with" a language simply because it isn't their native language or a heritage language. I can hardly think of a better way to develop a strong bond with a language than to speak it daily with someone you love dearly.
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby marcxjo » 2012-05-28, 15:55

To paraphrase Jan van Steenbergen (a fairly well-known name in conlang circles), it seems barbaric to raise your children into your hobbies rather than letting them develop their own. I think it's fair to suggest that Esperanto is really more or less a hobby in most cases where Esperanto is not (of necessity) the main language of the household.

I imagine there are cases where it can still foster a perfectly productive upbringing, but I personally don't think it's worth the risk to a child's quality of life. Borrowing from linguoboy, all of this disregards the fluidity with which young children acquire the languages they hear in any case; if my adopted sister is any barometer of the norm, even up to nearly ten years of age a kid can pick up a new language under enough pressure (in her case, the pressure to socially adapt to an American third-grade classroom).

Can an Esperanto-speaking child turn out well-adjusted? I imagine so, if you give them enough access to the world. But if it's not just because that's what the family speaks, then why do it? None of the answers I can think up seem particularly noble.
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby johnH » 2012-07-05, 0:16

As long as the brain isn't yet resistant should work fine as long as the language appears to be useful, but I'd use the critical period to teach some harder to learn language, but I don't know how many languages you can teach in that period.
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby YngNghymru » 2012-08-06, 15:33

I see nothing particularly unethical about teaching your child Esperanto in the home; it will have little or no effect on their linguistic capability in the community language (which they'll pick up and probably have far greater competence in within a short amount of time anyway) and if you're into all that internationalist stuff then, you know, it would make sense. It's slightly different teaching a child Klingon or something because that has even less real purpose and might be subject to stigma; that said unless you actively force your child to avoid communication with non-Klingon speakers a la Eliezer Ben Yehuda (which as Linguoboy says definitely IS a problem) it probably won't have anything other than a positive effect on them. Some studies supposedly show that children who are raised bilingually do better in school etc are better at languages later blah blah blah, and if this is true it should go for both natural and constructed languages.
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby johnklepac » 2013-04-20, 23:06

YngNghymru wrote:Some studies supposedly show that children who are raised bilingually do better in school etc are better at languages later blah blah blah, and if this is true it should go for both natural and constructed languages.

I've even seen it reported that children raised bilingually have an average of 12 more IQ points, which seems unlikely, but it definitely can't hurt. I'd go so far as to say that, absent the chance to communicate with other speakers otherwise, conlangs could be better choices - specifically ones like Lojban that are very differently structured from natlangs.

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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby pacakuneco2013 » 2013-08-29, 22:10

johntm wrote:I don't think it's unethical, just stupid. But I'm not the biggest fan of Esperanto.


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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby hedwards » 2013-09-17, 22:29

johnklepac wrote:
YngNghymru wrote:Some studies supposedly show that children who are raised bilingually do better in school etc are better at languages later blah blah blah, and if this is true it should go for both natural and constructed languages.

I've even seen it reported that children raised bilingually have an average of 12 more IQ points, which seems unlikely, but it definitely can't hurt. I'd go so far as to say that, absent the chance to communicate with other speakers otherwise, conlangs could be better choices - specifically ones like Lojban that are very differently structured from natlangs.


That's likely true. Mostly due to selection bias. It's sort of like how people with learning disorders have an IQ that's on average higher than the general population. It's true because if you're IQ is below a certain point you can't have a learning disorder by definition.

People who speak more than one language are less likely to have some sort of severe intellectual deficit, but whether the cause or effect is bilingualism is unlikely to ever be established firmly.

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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby Ahzoh » 2013-09-19, 0:43

there's nothing wrong with conlanguages being a frst language...
I mean aren't all languages technically created by people?
while not made by one, pople were defining things...
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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby Abbas Cucaniensis » 2013-12-11, 19:04

linguoboy wrote:All the cases of denaskuloj that I've heard about, the parents were Esperantists of different backgrounds who often had no other common language apart from Esperanto. Even if one (or even both) later come to learn the dominant language of wherever they end up settling down together, they will still almost certainly be more comfortable communicating in Esperanto.

I know a few of such cases, and it seems like all of their children would have refused at some point (usually at the age of two or three) to speak any other language than Esperanto, for the sake of simplicity. Not much of an issue, though — just a matter of talking some sense into them and letting them realise nobody else understands the language. On a side note, I still remember how Gonçalo Neves' cute little daughter amazed a whole bunch of the average old Esperanto-speaking farts, long time ago, when she timidly babbled a crisp "mi pre-fe-ras a-lis-pe-can gla-ci-a-ĵon".

Not being a denaskulo myself, yet having reached a point of extreme fluency in the past, I ended up thinking, doing mental arithmetic and even dreaming in Esperanto. I found that interesting, but soon afterwards I started to freak out when I realised that whenever I used any other language, including my mother tongue, I was somehow actually translating from Esperanto.

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Re: What do you think of a conlang as a 1st language?

Postby unikko » 2013-12-24, 13:19

Rising children in Esperanto isn't different situation than raising child in Irish or many different Siberian languages that are near to extinct: when your child can use Russian as his/her 1st language, why should you teach him/her Ket or Yakut?

It's in some point of view useless, and that's the reason the languages going to extinct. Esperanto will also extinct or be not really useful language if it won't have any native speakers - situation will be just like in disappearing minority languages.
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