“How do native speakers of a conlang learn their mother tongue?” 4/5

2015/7/11 seren arbazard

Mystery on Verbs

I was completely OK with their understanding of verbs with movement like “lad” (make), “lef” (run), “left” (jump). They learned these words when playing.
But I didn’t know why they could learn verbs without movement like tiia (love), siina (like), na (feel). Probably they learned these words via a lot of sentences somehow.

We, grown-ups, also learn an unknown word in a sentence. We just guess its meaning in the sentence.
Like we do, children probably guess the meaning of the word in the sentence.

Negative Interrogative

When the twins were 3, they couldn’t distinguish interrogative from negative interrogative.
When I asked “ti en siina hog?” (Don’t you like green peppers?), Luxia answered “ax” (Yes) while Yult answered “tee” (No).

In Arka, if you hate green peppers, you have to answer “ax”.
I asked “ti siina hog?” (Do you like green peppers?) to Yult. He answered “tee” again.
I understood he didn’t know how to answer to negative interrogatives.

Say Please

When the twins were around 2, they kept saying “fit bakm” (Give me milk) or just “bakm!” (Milk!).
The parents thought they had to add “ren” (please) or they were rude. So we repeated the sentence “ku “ren fit bakm”” (Say “please give me milk”).

Luxia didn’t obey us, so we ignored her orders.
Then she noticed she had to add “ren” before a verb when she asked something to grown-ups.

Want and May I?

After teaching “ren”, we taught some modality-adverbs (they are part of speech in Arka and like an auxiliary verb).
They had already known “lan” (want to). “lan” is a female form of “lax” (want to), so Yult had to say like “kui lax” (want to eat).

Arka has modality-adverbs like “ris”. It means “don’t want to”, i.e. “kui ris” is “don’t want to eat”.
It’s shorter to say “kui ris” than to say “en kui lax” (don’t want to eat), but they somehow liked the latter way.

We taught them “flen” (May I?). They only said “xen lax (lan) bakm!” (I want to drink milk), but it was a bit rude, I mean, kind of childish and selfish. So we had them say “xen flen bakm?” (May I drink milk?).

Don’t say “total”

“total” is “whatever” in Arka and it’s a very useful word for children, especially for Yult.
When Ridia asked him which did he want to eat for supper, pasta or rice, he just answered “total” (whatever).
He was passive about everything, so he always answered “total” to our questions.

One day, Ridia asked him “Oh, it’s raining, you want to wear a raincoat or walk under an umbrella?” He answered “total”. Ridia was annoyed a bit by his answer, said “ol total, xom tyu en xir io e?” (If you say whatever, you don’t need neither, right?), adding “tu tan et total xel tyu sab sap, hqn?” (It’s also “whatever” that you wear the air, right?)

A Cow and a Liar

When they were 3, Ridia asked them “lilis lax bak?” She meant “Do you want to eat beef for supper?” but Arka doesn’t have numerals, you can’t distinguish “beef” from “a cow”.
They thought mom’ll bring a cow and keep it as a pet. They were very excited and kept saying “ax!” (Yes!).
Ridia didn’t understand why they were so excited.

When having dinner, Luxia asked her “om bak san luna lena e?” (When do you bring a cow?)
Ridia was puzzled and answered “bak tis luna elf lena e” (No cows, why?).
Then Luxia got angry and said “Menteuse!” (Liar in French). She added “tyu rensat “lilis lax bak” ento non rensik “ax”!” (You asked “Do you want a cow?” and I answered “Yes”!).
Ridia realized there was a misunderstanding between them, and said “Non, j’ai dire que « tu veux manger du bœf? »” (In French, No, I said “Do you want to eat beef?”)
She understood the misunderstanding but began to weep because she wanted to keep a cow as a pet.

When I heard the story, I said “You should’ve said bakyek (meat of a cow), not bak (a cow)”.

By the way, why didn’t she say “fie!” (It’s a lie!)? I thought it was because more shocking than “menteuse”. In Kaldia, I mean Arbazard, the greatest country in Kaldia, it’s very bad to tell a lie, so she didn’t call her a liar in Arka.


One day, I asked them “tiis em lax to im ik mav?” (What do you want to be when you’re grown up?) Luxia answered “non em lan prikyua alkalt tolis on” (I want to be a Precure until I’m ten).
I laughed and asked “alkalt yuli az malt kok, son im mav?” (Until you’re little, right? So what do you want to be when you become a grown-up?)

She answered nothing.
Then Yult said “noa siina kum xom em lax vals e kum” (I love animals, so I want to be an animal doctor).
Having heard of it, Luxia said “xom non lad lan pita, kea fan tyu, freinoa” (Then I want to make medicines and heal your diseases, father).

I said “You’ve got to enter a grande école in France or Hokkaido University in Japan”.
They answered “I will”.


It was hard for us to teach them “en” (not). In Arka, “en” can be a modifier for any parts of speech.
“en an ke sokl” is “Not I (somebody) go to the park”. “an en ke sokl” is “I don’t go to the park”. “an ke en sokl” is “I go to somewhere except the park”.
The usage of “en” is so logical that adults can easily learn it.

But for native speakers, only the second sentence was acceptable. Instead of “en non” (not I), they tended to say “xe” (somebody).
It was 2011 when they began to use the 1st and 3rd sentences.

When Ridia told off Luxia saying “lala es tyu xenat xivel e yuutxan!” (Why did you eat little Yult’s chocolate!?), she lied saying “tee, non en xenat” (No I didn’t eat it) instead of “tee, en non xenat” (No, not I ate it).

Ridia repeated “en tyu sot? en tyu?” (Not you did? Not you?) I thought that was how Luxia understood the form “en non”.

Foreign Languages

When I broke up with Esta, I wanted to raise our child only with Arka. However, when the twins became 2 years old, I became anxious for their future.
Now there are 6 native speakers of Arka, but it’s not possible for Arka speaker to live without foreign languages, I mean, natlangs.

When they became 2 years old, and had nobody to play with, I had Ridia and Mel teach natlangs, too.
At that time, Japanese was out of our list, but Mel loved to watch animes on the Internet and Luxia was influenced by her, began to watch Japanese animes or play Japanese games.

When she was 2, I heard her sing a Japanese anime (or game, whatever, I don’t care) song saying “ha pi ne su!” That was the first time I heard her speak Japanese.

On January 17th 2011, I met Luxia for the first time in Shinjuku, Japan. Ridia came to Japan with her. She was 3 at that time.
I took them to a Japanese restaurant. There, she ate Janapese dishes for the first time.
There were no equals to “dengakudofu” (a kind of tofu) in Arka.
She hated it and said “non xen rin tu. tu yun bet” (I don’t want to eat it. It’s like mud).
“tu et to?” (What’s this?), said she. “an en ser…” (I don’t know…), answered I. “xom tu et bettan mil tu yun bet” (Then it’s “bettan” because it’s like mud) said she.
On this day, she made some other coinages.

Move to France

In March, 2011, Ridia and her families moved into Lyon, France.
We had already taught French a bit to them.

“arka et les tyu ladat sete,? papa. xom non siina tu nod alyuren e” (You made Arka, didn’t you? So I like Arka better than French” said she.

We were very surprised at her words; “arka et eld le tyu ladat sete? son ne ladat alyuren?” (You made Arka, right? Then who made French?).
In her world, there was no difference between conlangs and natlangs.

Her first French sentence I heard was “Il est tombé” (It fell down).
At first, I didn’t think it was French because she spoke Arka mainly.

Kax Problem

One day, Luxia showed me her diary. One of the sentences was “tu fia et kax kokko veliz” (There’re many bugs all over the world). Kokko is a caser (preposition) of Arka and means “with”. Kax is “be filled”, so “kax kokko” is supposed to be “be filled with”.

But actually kokko means “by using something” or “do something together with somebody”.
If this kax meant “by using bugs” the sentence could mean “The world is filled with something by using bugs.” or if it meant “do something together with somebody”, the sentence could mean “The world is filled with something together with bugs”.
Both ways couldn’t mean “The world is filled with bugs”.

In 2015, faras palt, a user of Arka, nias avelantis and I considered this matter.
To conclude, we agreed with making kax (full) be a new caser.
Kax became a new caser. It meant “be filled with something” or “be full of something”.
So “tu fia et kax veliz” became the proper way.

Arka has much more prepositions than English. There’re more than 100 casers in Arka. And thanks to the casers, people all over the world can communicate with each other without misunderstanding, unlike Esperanto.


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