Are there any people who ONLY speak Esperanto?
As I recently discovered that there are probably 1000 to 2000 "native" speakers of Esperanto (Learned as their first language from birth). I was wondering if any of these native speakers only speak Esperanto, and no other language. I suppose that would make life very difficult though, since to my knowledge, Esperanto is not an official language in any country, so I'd imagine that such a person would be practically unable to communicate with most people in public, such as in stores, restaurants, banks, etc. Maybe this was a silly question, but I'm curious.
I don't want to rule anything out, but the vast, vast, majority of native Esperanto speakers (denaskuloj) learned it from their parents who usually each spoke a different language. So really, they grow up learning 3 languages, provided each parent teaches their native language to the child. PLUS, if the family is living in a country that speaks yet a different language, the child will gain a 4th through immersion (presumably).
I think the first part of your comment is a myth. Many denaskuloj are born to international couples, but I don't think it's the "vast majority" of them. It's my understanding that half of the families in question are more like mine - majority language natives using Esperanto as a minority language. International couples are often more concerned with learning the local language and making sure that the kids speak the parents' native language(s) well enough to speak with Grandma, that Esperanto often takes a back seat
You are right. When I wrote that comment I was concentrating on staying away from the none/all traps of hyperbole, more than real life situations.
I had fun thinking of all sorts of things which surely do not exist - and deciding which ones are more likely.
For example - which is more likely - an invisible pink unicorn, or an invisible pink unicorn named Fred?
I don't know that anyone speaks ONLY Esperanto for exactly the reasons you give. That said I've had the pleasure of meeting two children who were taught Esperanto as a first language at home.
When at home and very young (< 5 yo) I assume they spoke ONLY Esperanto, which for a young child probably isn't a problem (my own child did speak at all until he was 4.5). As it was these two spoke English just fine as well as Esperanto. In fact it was a little weird getting schooled by a 10 year old, but so it goes :).
I would say that a monolingual Esperanto speaker has a greater chance of existing than Russell's Teapot does, but less chance than Big Foot or Mokele Mbembe. Also, there are certainly more people who have reached a decent age having learned no languages - a result of neglect and abuse. Fortunately these cases are extremely rare.
My son's first words were in Esperanto, but we never imagined for a second that he would be monolingual. Babies have grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and family friends. Toddlers go to play groups. 5 year olds go to kindergarten. Speaking Esperanto at a sufficient level for it to be a real home level is a huge challenge and commitment. There's virtually no way (except through serious abuse) to keep a child from learning the local language.
Thanks for cluing us in on "Russell's Teapot" - another interesting philosophical path to wander down!
Don't worry it's just a question, and I don't really know the answer but... This world is a strange place where reality can sometimes exceed imagination. Stay curious!
Good answers. I figured it was unlikely that any monolingual Esperanto speakers existed, but in this wacky world we live in, you never know. Stranger things have existed, for example, I heard about a man who was raising his son as a "native Klingon speaker".