Meanderings of an Amateur Linguist

Just me and my languages – a dangerous combonation

Why I learn Volapük

Posted by ILuvEire on December 1, 2008

Glidis! Alärnosös Volapüki!

I’m one of the world’s few Volapükists. I’ve been asked so many times why I choose to support this language, as opposed to other IALs (Interational Auxiliary Languages). I’ve broken it up into two points.

1) International Vocabulary

Volapük’s vocabulary is far more “international” than Esperanto, Novial, Ido, Lingua Franca Nova and pretty much every other IAL, except for Lojban/Loglan. Much (if not all) of Volapük’s vocabulary is derived from English and German (the two languages its creator spoke the best). Volapük however has an extremely constricting syllable structure. Every word must begin and end in a consonant. He attempted to make the vocabulary as international as possible, and ended up with these extremely changed words, mutilated some would say. This makes the vocabulary equally hard for everyone. Lol means rose, but only in Volapük. A Japanese speaker and an English speaker will both have the same difficulty learning it.

The creator also attempted to keep all of the words to one syllable long (so that compounds wouldn’t be so long, and affixes could be easily applied). This means that he also avoided any long consonant clusters.

2) Grammar

Volapük’s grammar is quite complicated. It’s heavily agglutinative. This is pretty much hard for everyone, because his cases are used in different ways than most other agglutinative languages (like Hungarian or Finnish). He keeps his case endings very short (one vowel apiece) and his tense prefixes are one vowel long, then each mood suffix is a vowel and consonant long (like –ös for example, except for the passive prefix which is just p– . He wraps things up in a little package. I like it.

On top of that, the grammar is not similar to any living language. I think that the creator did that on purpose, so that the language would be totally different and therefore more international.

Some examples:

Lol – rose (nom)

Loli – acc

Lola – gen

Lole – dat

Then, add an –s to make the plural.

Each verb has tons of conjugations and forms, so I’m only going to demonstrate a few. I’m going to have the root bolded on each of the examples, and then the feature I’m trying to demonstrate italicized.

Lärnön – to learn

Lärnom – He learns

The present tense is formed by adding the appropriate pronoun. Om means “he,” so all you have to do is suffix it to the end of the stem.

Alärnomös! – Learn now!

Most of the moods are suffixed after the person inflection. The passive voice is p– on the frond of the tense prefix.

If you ever want someone to talk to about Volapük, I’m right here for ya’!

2 Responses to “Why I learn Volapük”

  1. Diogenes said

    Wow, this is really interesting! Do you know where to find more information on the history, etc. of this language?

    P.S. I am a Unilanger who just happened to stumble on your website and I enjoy it greatly🙂

  2. rye said

    Fascinating! I like how its grammar and vocabulary are different from existing languages.

    Note to self: find out more about Volapük!

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