Native Speakers Of Germanic
Design Goals And Principles
Folkspraak is a model language being designed as a
common Germanic language (an "Intergerman", if
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
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
You can also join our discussion list:
Click to subscribe to Folkspraak discussion list
Or view its archives,
word lists and shared
||*included in Dutch figures
population estimates adapted from The
Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, 1987.
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
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
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.
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
'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
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.