Menad bal pük bal
July 12, 2006 7:45 PM   Subscribe

For a brief moment in the 1880s, Volapük^ seemed like it could be the language everyone spoke. The reform of 1931 notwithstanding, it has become the universal language no one speaks (though a few people at next week's Esperanto convention in NYC will reportedly try). It does have its own Wikipedia, the Vükiped, and there's even a a website entirely in the language. The language's bizarre appearance inspired the quasi-Cyrillic Volapuk Encoding^. You can learn the language and use it in email, or if you're daring even try to meet up with a Volapük speaker in your area. Or just appreciate this oddity that tried to build the tower of Babel .
posted by graymouser (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How cool! I spent most of the night reading through Omniglot, and I pop over to MeFi and find this!
more on Volapük at Omniglot
posted by zerokey at 8:00 PM on July 12, 2006

One slight problem:

When saying, "I'm learning to speak Volapük," over the phone, the listener will hear, "I'm learning to speak while I puke."

This is cool though. Thanks graymouser!
posted by premiumpolar at 8:19 PM on July 12, 2006

I like the new notation for Wikipedia links, but for a few seconds I thought the Volapuk alphabet included the ^.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:28 PM on July 12, 2006

Nice! Hey, and if you see Fafhrd somewhere in a Lankhmar dive, remind him he owes me 5gp and the tit of a necromanceress.
posted by freebird at 8:33 PM on July 12, 2006

Holy shit. I'm actually trying to learn Volapük. And I'll be at the Esperanto convention. And I'm one of the people who'll try to speak Volapük there. (Where'd you hear about that, by the way?)
posted by gubo at 8:49 PM on July 12, 2006

Here's the whole New Testament ("Diatek Nulik").
posted by gubo at 9:04 PM on July 12, 2006

I'm learning Spanish and I live in Texas. Is that helpful for world peace or should I switch over to Esperanto ASAP?
posted by MarkO at 9:33 PM on July 12, 2006

I love obscure auxlangs — the other day at the thrift store I ran across a textbook for teaching Blissymbolics to disabled children. What I'd really love to hear spoken (or played, as it were) is Solresol.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:40 PM on July 12, 2006

MarkO: I think spanish is an ideal universal language. It's easy to pronounce and spell, the vocabulary is similar enough to other romance languages to make that transition easier, and it's spoken by one of the fastest growing populations.
posted by JZig at 11:36 PM on July 12, 2006


I read about it on Auxlang -- I lurk, but don't post, since I'm pretty happy with Esperanto and there are plenty of people to defend it. Reading about people actually planning to talk in this weird language inspired me to learn a little Volapük and post about it here.
posted by graymouser at 3:32 AM on July 13, 2006

I'd love to hear a natural Solresol conversation as well. Man that Blissymolics stuff looks really interesting. I can't seem to find a complete grammar / dictionary on the web though.
posted by bigmusic at 5:32 AM on July 13, 2006

Fascinating stuff.

(That said, it amazes me that in adopting this '^' link habit, MetaFilter users have managed to come up with notation even more fucking annoying than that mimsy little memorial '.' In this case, it's especially pointless - your Wikipedia links might just as well have been standard links. Why put a '^' link after 'Volapuk Encoding' when you could just link those words? And in what way does a '^' suggest Wikipedianess? A superscript 'w', while equally silly, would at least make sensew.)
posted by jack_mo at 5:44 AM on July 13, 2006

Awesome post. Thank you from a language geek.
posted by blucevalo at 7:52 AM on July 13, 2006

Great post!

jack_mo: You can't win. When people link to Wikipedia as you suggest, others yell at them for a "lame link to Wikipedia." The ^ was developed to ward that off. I agree with you that a superscript 'w' would be a tad more comprehensible, but hey, it's just a convention. No need to let it ruin your day.
posted by languagehat at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2006

The Volapük Wikipedia has 82 articles. (Esperanto has 54,000+, Ido 13,000+.) I mostly found it ugly and comical, where Esperanto had simplicity and grace, and was much easier to learn if you already knew Romance roots.

Fascinating, though, that it was basically Schleyer's refusal to "open-source" the language that doomed it. (Imagine if web pages had to be approved by CERN.)

I might have learned Volapük if I'd discovered it before Esperanto (although I never gained real fluency).
posted by dhartung at 4:40 PM on July 13, 2006

I mostly found it ugly and comical

I have to confess this is my reaction too. Of course, I seem to have a bias in favor of natural languages (I find Esperanto boring and comical), so take with appropriate salt.
posted by languagehat at 4:59 PM on July 13, 2006

Well, since most constructed languages seem to have a large amount of borrowing in them to create their structure and so on, it's been more worth my energy to learn real world languages.

I won't lie; I studied Quenya once. From there I escaped to Finnish. I actually use Finnish, for survival and life, and I think that that's been far more worth investing energy in.

I guess constructed languages can be fun in an aesthetic sense, but well, if you want to open up your world to speak with a vast majority of people, learn something living.
posted by taursir at 12:02 PM on July 14, 2006

« Older When the President Does It, That Means it is Not...   |   some massive urban machine Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments