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Popularity? Indeed!

A Volpauk hymn A ticket to the ball I'm not making this up: Volapük really was very popular in the 1880's. Thousands upon thousands signed up. Local societies blossomed everywhere. As evidential detritus, there's the Volapük hymn (left) - click it and sing along.
and here's a ticket to a ball in Munich (right) - click it to get entry to THE social event of 1880! ...

University Challenge

It was with some surprise that I was alerted to a question on the BBC's University Challenge (March 2017) that cited my book on Volapük. Gratifyingly, none of the students involved knew the correct answer. For those of you appreciative of murky and grainy pirated footage, watch here on YouTube To avoid the humiliation of not knowing any answers to any questions, jump to around 14mins 30secs to start watching...

The Schleyer Family

Did you know that the German industrialist Hans Martin Schleyer, kidnapped and shot by the Baader-Meinhoff group (the "RAF") in 1977, was the great-nephew of Johann Schleyer, the inventor of Volapük?
No, I thought you didn't...
So - were the members of the "RAF" in fact crypto-Esperantists, or disgruntled Solresol-ists?
( I am grateful to Mary Jackson for this nugget... )

Sir Thomas Urquhart...

A very readable collection of the papers delivered at the 400th anniversary conference on Sir Thomas Urquhart, Scottish translator, linguist, mathematician, Royalist and general odd-ball, has now been published. It is available from the Cromarty Arts Trust. My own paper on Sir Thomas and his scheme for a Universal Language (or not) is contained therein. He also makes an appearance in my current work-in-progress, alongside The Urinator...) .


The postscript to my book, kindly written free of charge by Dr William Chartres, includes correspondence from the late, great Professor Sigismond Bugarschitz of Vienna. For those who suspect a degree of authorial smuttiness in that name, the proof of the existence of his illustrious descendants is shown here in a photograph from Salzburg in 2004.

Vive la France! Vive Le Telegraphe de Londres!

I never once thought I'd be grateful to a President of France for riding to the rescue. After all, even as a partial Francophile, I've found all Presidents of the 5th Republic just a little hard to take. But President Sarkozy's remarks in 2010 concerning Volapük have propelled the language to headline news ... well, OK - give or take a few pages; and, yes, allowing for the far more newsworthy debate concerning his relationship with his wife; oh, and maybe the parlous state of the world's environment. But for those who remain interested, click here to read the Daily Telegraph's article dated 12th March 2010 (and, no, I never once thought I'd ever be grateful to the Daily Telegraph either...)

Cave Beck

Cave Beck? Never heard of him? And him with such a splendid forename, too. Well, just wait! this schoolmaster from Ipswich tried his hand at a Universal Language in the 1650s. His book - Universal Character by which all the Nations in the World may understand one anothers Conceptions, Reading out of one Common Writing their own Mother Tongues - perhaps exemplifies how badly wrong such attempts can go. But that was over 350 years ago. Be instructed and amused by a transcription of his book at the 'Fiat Lingua' website. (Of several printer's mistakes in the original, my favourite is the robin red-beast [entry 3373])