Friday, June 6, 2014

Winifred Stoner: Proof that Esperanto Is Not Harmful to Your Health

Speak some Esperanto for the
nice reporter, dear.
You probably know the line:
In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
But do you know who wrote it?

The verse is part of a longer poem by an early twentieth-century child prodigy, Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr. The "Jr." because she was named after her mother of the same name. It should be no surprise that the elder Stoner was (among other things) an education reformer. She was also an early Esperantist. The Stoner family took a prominent part in the Esperanto movement in the United States.

According to a piece in the June 6, 1915 Tombstone Epitaph, Miss Stoner
at twelve writes and speaks eight languages fluently; she has written for publication since she was five years old and has a number of books to her credit, among these a translation of "Mother Goose" into Esperanto rhyme under the title "Patrino Anserino" that has been pronounced by college professors "worthy of a professional linguist or a poet of standing."
What were you up to when you were twelve. Yeah, me too. She also created an Esperanto card game called "Ĉio." (Some sources attribute the game to the elder Stoner, which is probably the truth anyway.)

The elder Stoner (I'll call her Mrs. Stoner from here) claimed that her daughter was not a prodigy. Her contention was that anyone's child could be like Miss Stoner, if the child's parents only followed Mrs. Stoner's ideas on child raising. She had lots of them. Some of them are probably even helpful. She recommended daily baths and exercise, for example.

The main thrust of the article was the question of whether prodigies die young. The mother of a twelve-year-old might not actually have a firm opinion on the subject (though Mrs. Stoner had no lack of firm opinions). While denying that her daughter was a prodigy, she did note that many children whose educations started early lived to a ripe old age.

Miss Stoner did indeed live to a ripe old age. After her childhood days, she seems to have dropped any association with Esperanto, but she did live to be 81 years old.

As for whether she could do all those things, I have my doubts. On the other hand, the Tombstone did report that
She had passed college examinations for degrees successfully and has taught a class in Esperanto at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.
Though they probably had only Mrs. Stoner's statements to support this.

Note: Miss Stoner was a bit of a media darling as the living embodiment of her mother's educational theories. I'll get back to her.
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1 comment:

  1. Verŝajne tiam ĵurnalistoj permesis esti pli pigra kiam la legantoj ne facile povis kontroli liajn rakontojn (do, dum mi legas mia Facebook-muro mi scivolas se io ajn vere ŝanĝis je tiu afero).

    Mi interesas pri kiel vi trovas la enhavojn de ĉi-blogo. Ĉu vi elspezas vian tempon kribranta malnovaj ĵurnaloj? Ĉu via loka biblioteko havas serĉ-kapablon kontraŭ ĝia arkivoj de novaĵoj? Ĉu vi abonas iun servon por fari tion?


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