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Human Father Speaks Only Klingon To His Young Son for Three Years

As one might expect from any involved and nurturing father, d'Armond Speers of Minnesota spoke only Klingon to his son for the first three years of his life. Hart Van Denburg writes in Citypages:

"I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language," Speers told the Minnesota Daily. "He was definitely starting to learn it."

And get this, Speers says he isn't really a huge Star Trek fan.

We'll take his word for it.

Does the fact that Speers has a doctorate in computational linguistics explain anything -- or excuse anything -- here? Maybe. His child-rearing habits were part of a larger story on the company he advises, Ultralingua, which develops language and translation software. Including Klingon.


Link via Geekologie | Image: Paramount

I guess this dummy doesn't realize that "Klingon" *IS* a human language. It's no different than teaching a kid esperant. My main concern would be about teaching a kid an immature language that may not have a fully thought out syntax and vocabulary.
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Alert! Neatorama is on an unintentional connect-the-posts run!

It started with High Noon, with the cannon.
Then the story about Pirates.
Mickey Mouse's birthday (Pirates of the Carribean connect to Disney).
My post on the Disney/Star Wars ads.
And who can't think of a reason to connect Star Wars and Star Trek?

I guess it works better the other way, but still.
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This is almost as troubling as Peter Stillman's father in Paul Auster's City of Glass. Peter's father locks him in the basement for his first nine years, blocked from hearing human speech in the delusional hope that the boy will learn the pure language of God and Eden. Except that was fiction!!
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@ Shannon
it actually does have a fully thought out syntax and vocabulary ... MY main concern is whether the father has been speaking it correctly to his kid or not! The grammar is apparently incredibly complex, and of those that speak it, few actually bother to learn the correct grammar.

Slate has a really great article about the whole thing:
http://www.slate.com/id/2217815/pagenum/all/
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Lighten up, Tim Giachetti. Assuming the child has social contact with people other than his father, he would be bilingual. He will still learn English from his mother
and others. Children can handle talking to different
people in different languages.

Learning a second language is good for a child's mind.
It will enhance his understanding of English and make it easier to learn more language.

He might want to keep the Klingon under wraps when he hits his teen years, though, or he'll only get laid at Trekkie conventions.
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If I were this guy, I'd be doing it with Latin. The kid would have an advantage when it came to college and health class.
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The Citypages article quoted above contains some glaring inaccuracies. Most were addressed in the comments section by Loring Harrop of Ultralingua:

"1) The Speers family raised their son bi-lingually, not exclusively in Klingon. They are not residents of the Twin Cities (or Minnesota, for that matter).

2) Language acquisition is non-exclusive; i.e., contrary to the posts from Stuart and Reality, learning multiple languages actuality improves the overall ability to acquire language, much like cross-training in sports improves athleticism.
Studies of multilingual children have proven this and are used by the Esperanto Society as a plug for learning constructed languages in addition to traditional language courses. So, in fact, the Speers did their son a service.

3) Dr. Speers is a first-rate professional, as are the other Klingon experts who helped us on this project and linguists who consult on our mainstream applications. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with them."

A more accurate article can be found at: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=10873
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Tim Giachetti: You should just mind his own business and shovel your own fat, t.v. watching brats full of sugar and cow's milk like everyone else in this country. Most people here don't even speak one language. (properly) This kid's dad most likely spends more time with his kid than he does looking at porn and cuffing his carrot on the Internet. (unlike most American men) I predict your kids will end up working for his kids some day.
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BM, you troll way to much on here.
If you can't say anything with out the venom then don't say shit at all. Every post you comment on is filled with self loathing and hate.
If you want to troll go to you tube.
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Oh and my kids are in their late 20s. My daughter holds 2 masters degrees and my son owns his own company.
My grandchildren are better educated than you troll.
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Isn't Latin a ":dead language" ? I took it in high school because I figured I'd never meet a Roman and have to know how to speak it ! I wonder if our military uses Klingon geeks as "code talkers" ??
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I was raised a Roman Catholic Jim. Learned latin due to the sermons being in nothing but latin, only the "personal message" from the priest was in english.
I don't think the church even uses latin any more.
Too bad though, since so many languages are based on it.
Yup, pretty much dead.
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Well, if people are making mean comments on Gizmodo then it must be ok, Tim. Unconventional learning --- BAAAD!

How is this going to harm the child in any way?
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Geee Mitch, I don't know, Maybe in the same way the Nazis experimented on children with psychological testing and worse.

How anyone could see this as harmless is as much of a moron as the father.
Ethics Mitch, ever heard the word?
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I'd say this is harmless. Actually, probably brain expansive for the kid. Really, it's not different from friends of mine whose parents only spoke Dutch German to them in the home - although they live in an English-speaking society. The kids picked up English just fine through interactions outside the home, and are bilingual. Makes me jealous sometimes, really. lol. So, what's the big deal if this kid is bilingual with English and Klingon?
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When I read the article yesterday I admit I felt it was wrong. But in retrospect, I think it's mostly harmless, my initial bad reaction was more about Klingon. Seriously, WHY out of every languages did he choose Klingon? Out of all the languages, why not an actually used language in the real world? Maybe the father wouldn't have had to stop after 3 years and the kid could be fluent in 2 useful languages. I'm not dissing Klingon or anything, but you have to admit, that language is mostly an interest for trekkies and lingists because it's a new language, but it's not like there's a country that speaks Klingon.

It seems like an odd experiment simply because he picked Klingon, otherwise nobody would care/talk about about this. I'm pretty sure there are many parents that do the same thing with Spanish/French/German or whatever.
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It's a "big deal" because Klingon is a relatively utterly useless language in the real world, while Dutch/German are very practical in the real world. Sorry guys, but Tim is spot on.

I mean that is just ridiculous Leona--imagine, REALLY imagine, if the father went to the extent of speaking ONLY Klingon at home as you say, and the child was forced to learn to speak and read English on his own through "interactions outside the home." How in cotton picking heck can you say it's "not different"?

Is this website chock full of Trekkies or what? At what year would this be considered child abuse? What if he taught a language he made up, that has "proper syntax"--is that somehow ok as well?
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This is pretty old news. I'm not sure why it's coming up now.
The reason he chose Klingon was that Klingon was developed specifically to defy all of Noam Chomsky's ideas of what is possible in a language. After it was developed, Chomsky had to revise his rules to say they only applied to natural language.
Chomskian generativist linguists believe that the consistencies between the natural languages of the world exist because of structures in the human mind/brain. That is, we are only able to learn and fluently use languages that conform to certain rules. Since Klingon breaks all of these rules, the question of whether it's possible to learn Klingon as a native language is incredibly interesting.
I don't think there's anything abusive or dangerous in this at all. The child's mother spoke English to him, and he grew up speaking English natively. He learned some Klingon, but then around the age of five simply refused to use it to communicate anymore. As a linguistic anthropologist, I take this to mean that he stopped using it because nobody but his father spoke it, and he may have picked up that it was stigmatized. But my formalist linguist friend thinks it means that Klingon really is impossible to learn as a native language and Chomsky was right.
So, nothing resolved there, but it was an interesting experiment.
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We won't be certain of the results until we can dissect the child's brain and analyze the neuron linking directly. I do hope this will be attended to soon.
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I just wondered why John had to point out that the father was a "human father".

Dude's an idiot.

What's Klingon for "You're a cunning linguist"?
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Ok, Tim Giachetti, whatever you say, but anyone who knows even a little bit about the process of language acquisition (like, I dunno, someone with a PhD in LINGUISTICS) knows that a child who speaks English with one parent and another language with the other parent is going to pick up English just fine. So what is the problem with the child learning Klingon? It will help him to have an easier time learning other languages with syntax and grammar that are very different from English.
It's a way of imparting knowledge to the child, not an unethical psychological experiment.

I can't stop you from making snap judgments about something you don't understand, but it sure makes you look silly. Why don't you look into whether the child was harmed by any of this before you shoot off your mouth about kicking his father in the head?
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John Farrier: "B.M., chill. You can make an argument without sinking into personal insults."

Excuse me John, but I'm not the one who advocated kicking some father in the head with golf shoes for having a good time developing his kid's mind. I also am not the one who equated him with Nazis.

I stand by my statements. We are a society of people who just love to point the finger at anyone who breaks from the normal parenting behavior of ignoring our kids; we like buying them a bunch of crap, shoving them off in front of a t.v., video game, or computer. We don't even talk to them in our cars;(while on the way to feed them some crap food at some fast food joint) we have t.v. sets there too.

For the most part, our kids are fat, ignorant, incurious losers. We seem to be able to teach them just enough to breed. Most of them really do barely speak one language, except the Hispanic kids who for the most part, speak two languages, poorly. Most of our kids don't know much more about the world around them other than pop stars, sports stars, movie stars, porn stars, and expensive gadgets that they want for Christmas.

And Tim, it's easy to describe someone who you disagree with as "Self Loathing" or sling the appellation "Nazi" around, but you are the one who has so much violence in your heart that you want to kick someone in the head with golf shoes for having the audacity to raise their kids out of the pathetic main stream of our lame society.
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B.M. I don't know what went so wrong in your life. But, when you look at all your comments on the whole, you have a very serious problem.
You hate. And that's all you do.
Get some help woman, don't bring your ignorance and hate here.
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Some trekkies are amazingly hot. I met a guy at a trek convention this year who was an amazingly hot chekov (not nu chekov, but TOS chekov) and was not only clean smelling and trim, but could kiss like nothing else.

Love that I was dressed as fem!sulu too. IT WAS MADE TO BE.

Never saw him again though. Shame.

BTW, I'm not a slut or anything. Hahahaha. He was just weirdly charming and sweet and um..sexy. I'm a girl, not a asexual robot, damnit!
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I found this article amusing .... but what's not amusing is why some of you people are so abusive at each other, and abusive towards the father in the article...... surely you have your own life issues that you need to resolve instead of arguing over the net over something that really doesn't concern you....
Each have a point ... multiple linguistic capability is certainly a good thing (I was taught this when I studied secondary education in university) but as some said, the father could have taught a more useful language.
But in the end, what matters is not what the father did or what he did wrong .... but that some commentators on this article are acting like juveniles over something that ultimately does not concern them or their lives .....
So there are no adults after all, only kids in bigger bodies.... shame.......
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