Conlangs    Neologisms    Babel Texts    Neographies    Resources    Books    more »    Submit


Personal Languages


Online Survey
Enterprise Feedback Management for all your satisfaction research.
Customer Satisfaction
A surveyed customer is a more satisfied customer.
Free Survey
SurveySolutions Express provides free powerful unlimited surveys.
Survey Software
PC Magazine Editors' Choice for web survey software.
Folkspraak   Advanced


Native Speakers Of Germanic Languages

Design Goals And Principles

Vocabulary Design

Initial Vocabulary

Proposed Grammar


Folkspraak is a model language being designed as a common Germanic language (an "Intergerman", if you will).

Once complete, Folkspraak should be quickly learnable by any native speaker of a Germanic language (see table below), a group numbering over 465 million native speakers (with an additional 300 to 900 million speaking English as a second language).

The language is evolving into two dialects, called (tongue-in-cheek) Folkspraak Express and Folkspraak Pro. The newcomer, Folkspraak Pro, is a superset of Folkspraak Express that differs by emphasizing adherence to an artistic representation of a Germanic language over ease of use; Folkspraak Pro will have a richer grammar, a richer phonology and possibly a unique script as well.

Folkspraak is not meant to be designed by any one individual, but is a collective work created by all interested parties, according to the basic guidelines set below. You can propose a word for the language just by joining the discussion list and e-mailing your proposed word, its meaning and its form in three other Germanic languages (in addition to English). You can volunteer to have a greater part in the design of the language as well (see Further Design: How You Can Help!).

You can also join our discussion list:

Click to subscribe to Folkspraak discussion list

Or view its archives, draft word lists and shared links.

Native Speakers Of Germanic Languages - circa 1985

West Germanic North Germanic
DU Dutch 17.5 million DA Danish 5.1 million
GE German 98.0 million SW Swedish 8.3 million
FR Frisian 0.3 million NO Norwegian 4.3 million
FL Flemish *included in Dutch figures IC Icelandic 0.24 million
EN English 325.0 million FA Faroese 0.04 million
AF Afrikaans 4.5 million      
YI Yiddish 0.35 million      
OE Old English 0.0 million* ON Old Norse 0.0 million*

*Dead language.

All population estimates adapted from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, 1987.

[Wilbert Geijtenbeek provides 1999 estimates for Dutch and related languages. "There are approximately 23 million people speaking Dutch as a native language and an additional half a million as a second language. Furthermore, there are 6 million Afrikaans speakers. Finally, there are 500,000 Frisians."]

Design Goals And Principles

The primary objective of Folkspraak is for a speaker of a Germanic language to be able to comfortably read the language with a high level of understanding within a week and to be able to write in the language within a month.

A secondary objective is simply to create a model language through the active participation of many contributors, providing for a less solitary, more interactive hobby.

The primary design principle is that Folkspraak omit any linguistic feature not common to most of the modern Germanic languages. For instance, since English lacks grammatical gender, Folkspraak will lack grammatical gender as well. Since Swedish does not decline weak verbs for person or number, Folkspraak doesn't either. If a phoneme is not included in one of the main Germanic languages, then it is not present in Folkspraak either. (This is all meant to be subject to interpretation by the Folkspraakers; it is up to us as a community to determine what fits the Folkspraakgeist.)

A secondary goal of creating the Folkspraak vocabulary is to assist Rick Harrison in his creation of the Universal Language Dictionary (ULD). Once the Folkspraak dictionary has reached a suitable size, the cognate forms will be formatted in ULD format. (ULD already has German and Dutch lexicons, and an English definition file.)

A tertiary goal is to help people understand the common underpinnings of the Germanic languages.

Vocabulary Design

The vocabulary of Folkspraak will be generated by choosing a "consensus form", derived from the most common patterns of the closest equivalent words in Swedish, Danish, Dutch and German, with words from other languages used as an occasional tie breaker.

EXAMPLE - Word for "language": spraak

OE spraec

EN speech

SW spra*k

DA* Sprog

DU taal

GE Sprache

'SP' - 5 of 6 words begin with 'SP'

'SPR' - 4 of 6 words begin with 'SPR'

'SPRA' - 3 of 6 words begin with 'SPRA'

'SPRAA' - there is no consensus on the vowel and 'AA' was arbitrarily chosen (note that a better way of determining vowels needs to be developed)

'SPRAAK' - 2 forms end in /k/, other forms /g/, /ch/ are variants of the proto-Germanic /k/

[Verbs end in /-en/.]

The rules for this are still being developed.

Interestingly, Rob Ratatoskr points out, "You apparently came to the Folkspraak word of spraak, and, used in this matter, it looks exactly like if it is Dutch! The Dutch word spraak has in fact the same meaning as English speech, while taal means 'language'. In this case, the listing of the Dutch words for 'language' as taal and no reference to spraak will probably be due to lack of a Dutch contributor, but it made wondering whether you use, to some extent, etymology in any case. Sometimes, words of the same Germanic root have gotten a somewhat different, but still connected meaning. Would this exclude them from being used in the project? [Not at all.  I think etymologies would provide important mnemonic hooks for learners of Folkspraak. -Ed.] With regards to this, I think that even almost the same words, will in different languages, always have a slightly different meaning. Only with very concrete words like apple / appel / apfel / eple, this won't be the case."

The goal is not to re-create a proto-Germanic word but to create a form with maximum recognizibility for today (such a form will in most cases be similar but not identical to proto-Germanic). Folkspraak does have Romance words, but only those words most common to the Germanic languages, such as absorben, adopted into English, Dutch and German from the Latin root absorbére. Ideally, each Romance word in Folkspraak will have a corresponding Germanic compound word describing the same concept (say, a compound meaning "in-suck" for absorben).

In cases where the potential form of a Folkspraak word is unclear, it is often appropriate to forego a word altogether, relying instead on circumlocution. For instance, "quarrel" (SW gräla, DA*skaendes, DU twisten, GE zanken) will be best expressed with a synonym.

See the initial vocabulary and check out other contributed word lists.

Jeffrey Henning

Conlang Profiles at © 1996-2005 Jeffrey Henning.

FAQ - About Us - Contact Us - Features - Mailing List