A sketchy worldlang based on Volapük

This is a sketchy fauxlang I worked on for a few days in November 2005 and again briefly in February 2006. At present I don't plan to work on it any more, but like all the other material on this website (except stuff written by people other than me), it's released under a Creative Commons license; you can take it and run with it if you want.

Arie de Jong made a reform of Fr. Johann Martin Schleyer's Volapük which made the phonology (already a good deal more complex than I think is optimal for an auxlang) a bit more complex, adding /r/ and relexing some words whose natlang source had an /r/ to make them more recognizable, and, if I'm not mistaken, relaxing the phonotactic rules a bit to allow even more consonant clusters (I'm not sure about the last part since it's been a while since I looked at it). That went against the spirit, I thought, of Schleyer's Volapük. He didn't know much about global comparative phonology, but given the little he knew he tried to make it easy to pronounce for people of diverse native languages — thus avoiding the /r/ vs. /l/ distinction. Given that decision and its apparent motivation, I suspect that if he'd known more about what phonemes were common vs. rare in the world's languages he'd have avoided the front rounded vowels too, and possibly voicing contrasts and affricates as well.

Fualapiuk goes in the opposite direction from de Jong's reform, reducing the phonology to:

/S s f ? k t p n m l/
/i u a/

/S/ is represented orthographically by |j| as in Schleyer's and de Jong's versions of Volapük; the glottal stop is not written. There are nine allowed combinations of two vowels, which can optionally be pronounced as a long vowel or diphthong, or as two distinct vowels with a glottal stop between them. (The glottal stop isn't fully phonemic, not occurring in other contexts.) Thus:

|aa| = /a:/ or /a.?a/
|ai| = /aj/ or /a.?i/
|au| = /aU/ or /a.?u/
|ii| = /i:/ or /i.?i/
|ia| = /ja/ or /i.?a/
|iu| = /ju/ or /i.?u/
|uu| = /u:/ or /u.?u/
|ua| = /wa/ or /u.?a/
|ui| = /wi/ or /u.?i/

Fualapiuk's phonotactics allow no consonant clusters within words, but do allow word-final consonants and consequently inter-word consonant clusters.

The tense/aspect morphology is roughly similar in complexity to the original Volapük, with these prefixes:

a- past, unmarked aspect
i- present, unmarked aspect (optional except when a consonantal prefix precedes it)
u- future, unmarked aspect
aa- past, punctual aspect
ai- past, perfective aspect
au- past, imperfective aspect
ia- present, punctual aspect
ii- present, perfective aspect
iu- present, imperfective aspect
ua- future, punctual aspect
ui- future, perfective aspect
uu- future, imperfective aspect

The singular person-marking suffixes are almost isomorphic to the original Volapük, but follow de Jong in reducing sexism slightly:

Original Fualapiuk meaning
-ob -up first-person
-ol -ul second-person
-om -um third-person masculine
-of -uf third-person feminine
-on -un third-person epicene
-oy -uj third-person generic (= Esperanto "oni")

The case and part-of-speech changing suffixes are isomorphic to Volapük and almost identical in forms:

Original Fualapiuk meaning
-a -a genitive
-e -u dative
-i -i accusative
-ik -ik adjective
-iko -iku adverb

These mappings were used to automatically adjust Volapük vocabulary to Fualapiuk phonotactics:

Original Fualapiuk
a a
e aa
i i
o ua
u u
ä ai
ö ui
ü iu

I didn't get as far as finding mappings for all the consonants that don't occur in Fualapiuk.

Here is the entire corpus of Fualapiuk, with interlinear gloss:

faul-up laan-uin fual-a-piuk-i.
want-1 learn-INF world-GEN-speech-ACC
I want to learn Fualapiuk.
fual-a-piuk na lap-un sapul-i.
world-GEN-speech NEG have-3.EPI hope-ACC
Fualapiuk doesn't have hope.

(I.e., it has no hope of catching on and having people learn it.)

Na u-sapiuk-up tui fual-a-piuk.
NEG FUT-speak-1 about world-GEN-speech
I won't talk about Fualapiuk.

(i.e., as of 2005/11 I had no intention of publishing this stuff.)

[unless] u-kan-up sapiuk-uin tui un mui
unless FUT-can-1 speak-INF about it using
fual-a-piuk-i ni-nul-ik.
world-GEN-speech-ACC OPP-new-ADJ
Unless I can talk about it in original Volapük.

(There was a placeholder for an "until/unless" adverb or conjunction I never got around to coining or adapting from Volapük. I modified my original resolve saying I might publish something about Fualapiuk if I eventually learned Volapük well enough to talk about Fualapiuk in Volapük, but that never happened. In June 2009 Larry Sulky asked to see my Fualpiuk materials, so here they are.)


Fualapiuk Original Volapük meaning
fual vol world, Earth
piuk pük language, speech
sapiuk spik speaking, saying
tui on, about
mui me with, using
ni- ne- opposite, negator prefix
lap lab have, possess
faul vil want, desire
laan lenad learn
sapul spel hope

From: Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@........>
Date: Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM
Subject: Re: [AUXLANG] Fualapiuk (Volapük with reduced phonology)
To: deinx.nxtxr@........

On Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 12:14 AM, <deinx nxtxr><deinx.nxtxr@........> wrote:
> Jim Henry wrote:

>> Jong's versions of Volapük; the glottal stop is not written.  There
>> are nine allowed combinations of two vowels, which can optionally be
>> pronounced as a long vowel or diphthong, or as two distinct vowels
>> with a glottal stop between them.  (The glottal stop isn't fully
>> phonemic, not occurring in other contexts.)  Thus:

> This actually isn't a bad system though I think the glottal stop idea is a
> bit much.  I expect people will tend to merge the vowels into diphthongs
> anyway.  The only problem would be if you are introducing vowel length as a
> phonemic feature.

Yes, in retrospect the |aa|, |ii| and |uu| were probably a bad idea.

Also, I realize that the forms of some Fualapiuk words relative to the
Volapük words they come from don't follow the vowel mapping rules
described.  The mapping rules in the notebook I transcribed this stuff
from are the last thing there, apparently written after all the
sentences in the corpus.  I have a vague idea that I planned to redo
the word forms to match those mapppings, and also work out similar
mappings for (a) consonant clusters in original Vp words, and (b) Vp
words containing consonants that aren't in Fualapiuk.   But that now
seems like a bad idea too.  If I had e.g. mapped

v > fal
g > kis
d > tuf
b > pan

etc., and similar had a rule about a default vowel to insert wherever
original Vp words had a cluster, e.g. "spik" or "glid" (probably a
different vowel for each of three types of cluster, to avoid
monotony),  —  then the lengths of Fualapiuk words would depend largely
on whether the original Vp words violated Fualapiuk phonotactics and
how badly, not on how frequent the word is.

It would have been better to do a frequency analysis on a Vp corpus
and relex the words from most to least frequent with word forms that
fit Fualapiuk phonotactics and where convenient have some mnemonic
similarity to some natlang form.

Jim Henry

Back to main conlang page
Last updated August 2011