The Birth of

Pot at binon i gebidik in Volapük.

It has now been about three weeks since I got that mail about the IRC channel. It was Radu who had sent the Volapük Facebook group an invitation to speak Volapük in the #volapuk IRC channel of the network. I was working on another project at that time (an RDFa parser), but I thought I’d just drop by and say hello.

Immediately when I joined the #volapuk channel, Radu started to speak to me – in Volapük, of course. I was a bit stunned, but I tried to reply the best I could, simultaneously as I browsed around in grammar references and dictionaries. The dialogue went on, and I discovered, to my astonishment, that I knew Volapük a lot better than I thought. Until that day I had never communicated in Volapük, and merely studied it.¹ I was surprised by my ability to communicate in this obscure language and soon forgot about my other project.

Radu mentioned that he was thinking about having an IRC bot in the channel for looking up words in a dictionary, etc. Interestingly, I had been writing plug-ins for a bot that a friend of mine had written and I immediately begun to work on a dictionary plug-in for it. Later that day, its first version was done and was ready to serve under the name “puknik“.

Radu also mentioned that there should be an easy-to-find website with a lot of resources for learning Volapük in one place. I agreed. He proposed the domain I liked the idea and I offered to host it. Later the same day, we bought the domain. The first version of the website was really only one HTML file and one CSS file. As a big fan of Web 2.0 and social networks, I wanted to integrate the website with Twitter, which I believe is a great way to make ongoing dialogues visible on the web.

I began to read about the Twitter API and about the Pylons web framework. After some time, about two weeks after the original launch of, the complete rewrite based on Pylons was ready. The links on the site was synchronized with Delicious and the latest tweets with the #volapuk hashtag was displayed on the site.

Three weeks has gone and I have already got some new friends. Volapük is indeed a living language and I hope that will make more people discover this fascinating language.

  1. During a week or two at the end of the summer of 2008, I studied a greater part of the “Handbook of Volapük” of pure curiosity. I didn’t expect to use it, though.


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