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Wörterbuch der Weltsprache für Deutschsprechende: Vödabuk Volapüka pro Deutänapükans

Volapük Dictionary

Arie de Jong

2012. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-89-3 (hardcover), price: €34.95, £30.95, $42.95.

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Foreword to the 2012 edition

Arie de Jong’s magnificent German-Volapük Volapük-German dictionary has been out of print for decades. It is of course well known that the popularity of the Volapük language today is nothing like what it was in 1889, but the flame of interest in Volapük has never yet been extinguished. Unfortunately, the lack of availability of a comprehensive dictionary has made it extremely difficult for people interested in Volapük to make progress learning the language; most dictionaries available as reprints, for instance, are in Johann Martin Schleyer’s Volapük Rigik (‘Original Volapük’). But modern learners need a diction­ary which reflects the reforms made in Arie de Jong’s Volapük Nulik (‘New Volapük’, a term which I prefer to Volapük Perevidöl ‘Revised Volapük’ or Volapük Pevotastidöl ‘Reformed Volapük’).

The re-publication of Wörterbuch der Weltsprache: Vödabuk Vola­püka is a mile­stone in the history of constructed languages, and will, perhaps, help to keep interest in Volapük alive well into the 21st century. Volapük is a rich and flexible language, endowed with an extensive vocabu­lary. It may have no future as an International Auxiliary Lan­guage, but it nevertheless has both intellectual and aesthetic value, whether for the Esperantist interested in the history of the IAL movement, or simply for the enthusiast who comes to enjoy Volapük for its own sake.

When de Jong published his Wörterbuch der Welt­sprache, he called it the sixth edition, it following on from the five editions published by Schleyer from 1880 to 1897. An English translation of de Jong’s outline of the publica­tion history is given on page x, immedi­ately after this Foreword; the Vola­pük original is on page IV below. This reprint of de Jong’s dictionary is the first edition published by Evertype, and while it has some additional front matter, the text of the dictionary itself is unchanged from de Jong’s stated sixth edition, apart from the correction of täfidik to itäfidik on page 351, and of Taig to Teig on page 428, which I happened to notice while putting the book together, and my swapping of the section headings from “a. A.” to “A. a.” on perhaps trivial aesthetic grounds.

An English translation of de Jong’s German-language Fore­word, made by Hermann Philipps and reproduced with his kind permission, begins on page xi, after the publication history; the original German text begins on page V below.

On page xv, I give A Short Grammar of Volapük, my transla­tion and adaptation of de Jong’s Kurze Volapük-Grammatik, My adaptation was made with reference to his own 6-page Short Grammar of Volapük, which was composed by him and published by Jakob Sprenger Gams of Switzerland. This ap­peared along with a 6-page Aperçu de la Volapük; these pamphlets are undated, but their companion, the 12-page Kurze Volapük-Grammatik is dated 1929. I have used all of these and some additional material to expand the Short Grammar some­what. Of course readers of German can make use of de Jong’s own revision of the 1929 Kurze Grammatik, to be found from page IX below.

De Jong employed a slightly unusual method of alphabetizing in his dictionary. In the German-Volapük part, words beginning with capital letters and small letters are interfiled as is the normal practice in German, but de Jong also treats the letters a and ä, o and ö, and u and ü as separate letters. Thus schön follows Schottland, rather than schon as one would expect. This is the normal practice in Volapük, but not in German.

In the Volapük-German part, de Jong also treats the letters a and ä, o and ö, and u and ü as separate letters (with finatonat ‘final letter’ preceding finäd ‘termination’—which is the right way to treat them in Volapük). Unusually, however, he also separates capital letters from small letters so they are not interfiled (so Redamel ‘Red Sea’ follows rün ‘herring’. It is not difficult to get used to this practice while using the dictionary, but it is some­thing that should be brought to the attention of the user.

André Cherpillod’s Vortaro Volapük-Esperanto kaj Espe­ranto-Volapük, published in 2003, seems to be the first Volapük Nulik dictionary made available in book form since the publica­tion of de Jong’s dictionary in 1931. Ralph Midgley’s very useful vocabularies have been published on the Internet, but are much shorter than de Jong 1931; Midgley’s Volapük-English part has some 8,000 headwords, while de Jong’s has well over 25,000. In addition, de Jong published 17 supplements (fövots) to his dictionary between 1932 and 1956, comprised of over 1,900 pages of typescript, about half Volapük-German and half German-Volapük. 400 pages of the Volapük-German supple­ments were typed by Philippe Combot; this material would take up about 200 pages when typeset in the format of this diction­ary. Plans have been made to digitize the rest of the material for publication, though this may take some time. In the mean­while, Ralph Midgley has been translating the Volapük-German part of de Jong 1931 into English, which I hope to publish in due course.

Whatever may be said of the future, it is easy to say now that it is with great pleasure, and profound thanks to Arie de Jong’s son Arie and granddaughter Louise, that I publish this reprint, making it available to everyone interested in this fascinating language. I am grateful to Arden R. Smith, to Patrick H. Wynne, to the Guvan, Ralph Midgley, and to the Cifal, Brian Bishop, who all reviewed the front matter and offered many helpful comments.

To paraphrase what de Jong himself said 82 years ago in Voorburg, I want to express the hope that Volapük may find many new friends, who in their study of Schleyer’s ingenious invention may experience the same enjoyment as I have felt in preparing the dictionary for re-publication.

Michael Everson
Westport, 31 March 2012

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, Cnoc Sceichín, Leac an Anfa, Cathair na Mart, Co. Mhaigh Eo, Éire, 2012-03-31

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