Volapük: A Cautionary Tale for Any Language Community
You may have heard of artificially constructed spoken languages such as Esperanto, Interlingua, or Lojban, but do you realize that before any of these languages there was another constructed language which once claimed nearly a million followers, making it the most popular constructed language of all time?
That language was Volapük, and despite achieving such a high number of speakers is nowadays all but forgotten, even among linguists. I think Volapük’s story is one worth telling, because the reasons for its downfall are worth knowing for any member of a language community.
Volapük was created by Johann Martin Schleyer between 1879 and 1880. Schleyer was a Roman Catholic Priest who, one night, claimed to hear God himself speak to him commanding him to create a universal language to unite the European peoples. Volapük was a hybrid of English, German, and French, although you probably...
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