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On another question I commented that I doubted that if Lojban had a functional speech community that its purity would last very long.

By what criteria can we say that a conlang has a functional speech community?

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Here are some ideas, which when taken together would give a good idea whether a language has a strong functional speech community.

  • If a conlang has thousands of fluent first language (L1) speakers, that would be clear evidence, but even Esperanto, the most spoken conlang, has only up to 1000 Esperanto speaking families. Ideally those L1 speakers are able to meet and speak with each other regularly.
  • Even if the speakers are second language speakers, if there are so many speakers that distinct dialects have formed (without that being part of the design from the beginning) then that evidence of language change is evidence itself of healthy speech communities.
  • If there is friction between speakers of the language and the language's academy or regulators then that shows the language is starting to take on a life of its own. If the language regulators have ever had to make concessions to the speakers, then that shows the speech community is healthy.
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I'd lower the criteria significantly and already admit that a conlang has a speech community when it is used on some occasions for real-time face-to-face communications. By these criteria, even Klingon has a speech community.

Whether a speech community is functional or not is probably difficult to decide, I'd go for a kind of temporal criterion like having a speech community (as sketched above) for 30 years with no year left out. This is similar to the criterion biologists use to define an established new species in a certain area.

  • 1
    To some extent, the original question will depend on our understanding of "community". How small are we willing to take it? How functional is functional? I came across this post in Brithenig I don't know who the OP is (and don't think he created the language), yet we had a nice little chat in that language. If two random people online can have a chat in an invented language that neither of them made, then I might argue that "speech communities" are common, perhaps more common than we think. – elemtilas Apr 14 '18 at 20:06
  • "even Klingon"? Klingon is one of the most-spoken constructed languages and is generally considered to have one of the healthiest speech communities of any conlang -- any definition of a functional speech community that excludes Klingon for some arbitrary reason is not a particularly good one. – Sparksbet Apr 15 '18 at 19:48
  • @Sparksbet I wrote "even Klingon" because Klingon was never designed to have a speech community. – jk - Reinstate Monica Jul 5 '18 at 12:06

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