Dormouse559 wrote:I don't know that reading about conlangs can do anything for your natural language ability. Esperanto can't teach you Spanish. Reading about conlangs, but particularly creating one yourself, can aid you in learning about linguistics. However, knowledge of linguistics doesn't translate into language fluency. You learn a natural language by learning that language.
Full ACK on learning a natural language by learning it.
And you got a point.
If others have something additional to add, I'd still be interested in knowing it. Because sometimes, there are some methods that aren't know to all of us, including SGP
Studies have consistently shown that learning Esperanto helps in language learning.
The test they conduct goes like this: they have two groups of people. One studies Esperanto for a year, then another language for three
years. The second group instead studies only the target language for four
years. Doing this test on multiple languages has consistently shown that learning Esperanto first helps in future language learning. This also holds true for non-European languages, though not too many have been tested since, obviously, this kind of study takes a while, and you have to do it each language.
So yes, studying Esperanto can be confirmed to help, though I don't believe I've ever seen any research into why this helps. Also, the tests always involve the test subjects taking courses, so teaching yourself Esperanto may or may not help.
I've never heard of any tests like this being done for other conlangs, so who knows if they would work? I know the people behind the interslavic project claim that their language can act as a stepping stone into a real slavic language, though they have no actual research to back that up. Also, its meant primarily to be an auxiliary language for speakers of Slavic languages. Also, coming up with an interlang of some kind for the slavic languages has a pretty long history. Its constantly encouraged by the fact that the slavic languages diverged a relatively short time ago, so they all have a surprising amount of mutual intelligbility between them. Online I hear people constantly improvise their own inter-slavic language for communication. I believe the interslavic project is just an attempt to formalize this. They do make direct mention of how slavic speakers communicate online.
As for how Esperanto may help, I do have a few theories. One is the free word order. This helps to divorce the concept of grammatical role and placement within a sentence, making it easier for you to comprehend languages that don't use the same order that your native language does. It may also act as a way to wet your appetite, by allowing you to experience what its like to be bilingual with far less effort than it would normally take. Also, is has been consistently shown by independent studies that conlangs are in fact easier to learn than natural languages. Probably because their emphasis on regularity means you have to memorize fewer rules than you would normally have to. Though it should also be noted that conlangs normally aren't fully developed, because none of there are ever really used in a serious real world context, with the exception of Esperanto, but even that's quite rare. So they may not have ways of expressing everything. I know I have a constant problem coming up with odd constructions that I can't find any information on how to translate into Esperanto.
So, could it help? Eh, it might. The problem is though few ever get far with the language, which is probably because you never have a reason to use it. I can probably count on my hand how many people I've ever heard actually speak it. Really, the only exposure I've seen is on Esperanto forums (where everyone is asking 'how do you say this: ' all the time) and from amateur translations of books in the public domain. If you want so see some of those, you can find quite a collection on Project Gutenberg, though I've noticed that people have a bad habit of not translating entire series, or anything really iconic.