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A DISTURBING proposal! (was Re: Personal langs and converseofaux)

From:J Matthew Pearson <pearson@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 7, 2001, 2:14

> > My opinion as a linguist is that his conlang experiment is doomed to failure: > > His children would probably > > resist speaking his conlang, and learning it would certainly not help them acquire > > other languages (better to > > expose them directly to those other languages instead). But as long as he does not > > propose to raise his > > children in a linguistic vacuum, I would hardly characterise his proposal as sociopathic. > > I would add another reason this experiment is doomed to failure. I find it > highly improbable that the conlang will be developed to a high enough > degree to allow for casual, constant conversation. And even if it does get > to that point, the experiment would require that all members of the > household speak the conlang, otherwise it is unlikely that the children > will pick up on much of it. Only a single person using the language will > not be using it naturally, eg, asking and answering questions, using words > other than very basic ones, etc.
A good point. I've been working on Tokana for years and years, and have developed a reasonably detailed grammar for it, as well as a modestly large vocabulary (3000 words or so). I've even committed a couple hundred words of Tokana to memory. And yet I can barely string two sentences together, and would be hard-pressed to teach Tokana to anyone else. Other than the Esperantistoj and a small handful of devoted auxlangers, Lojbanists, and Klingon fans, I don't think anyone else has had much better success at achieving comfortable fluency in a conlang. Mia Soderquist, sometime of this list (are you lurking, Mia?) got fairly good at speaking simple sentences in one of her conlangs, ea-luna. IIRC, she tried using it around her young children in the hopes they would pick it up, with modest success: I think they could understand a few words of it, and even deigned to produce a word or two now and then. But this exercise neither helped nor hindered her children from acquiring English, and was certainly in no way traumatic for them. Irina and Boudewijn Rempt have played similar conlanging games with their children--again, with no ill effects. (Quite the contrary: These games ended up spurring their creativity.) Matt.