Volapük stenogafik e stenogaf volapükik

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Volapük stenogafik e stenogaf volapükik  (1889) 
by W. J. Hughes


While from its inception the remarkably regular construction of Volapük has challenged the admiration of intelligent thinking people, not even the most ardent advocates of the language have claimed that it is entirely faultless. The contrary is freely admitted and its promulgators have made a wise provision for the improvement and control of the language by establishing an Academy, the exercise of whose discretion may in time make it, at least approximately, perfect in theory, and practically adequate for all appropriate purposes. In formulating his system of universal language, Father Schleyer seems to have been constrained to a certain degree by existing prejudices against a change in established methods. This is, perhaps, most prominently shown in his retention of the ordinary longhand method of writing, for the written representation of Volapük. It need hardly be said that any language, to become generally accepted, must be capable of being both spoken and written. This is inherently neccesary. Whether Volapük fulfills the first requirement is disputed; but certain it is that it exists to-day as a written language only. When its sound shall be simplified and made euponious, no doubt it may, in its own spere, become currrent as a spoken language.

But considered as a written language, is Volapük all that could be desired? Let us see. When spoken sounds represent ideas, according to any system of language, their enunciation is made with an economy of time and labor commensurate with and corresponding to to their proper formation. An idea is formed. Instantly the tongue forms the appropriate sounds to convey the idea, which is apprehended when the sounds are heard. It is not necessary in oral communications in a familiar language to individualize and separate the constituent sounds of a word, and give detailed expression to each. The sounds of the separate letters are spoken in their entirety as words. But in the written representation of a language it is entirely different. There, the elements of each expresion, represented by signs corresponding to the vocal sounds, are considered necessary to be given in their primary form, as each letter in the spoken language might be separately sounded. In other words, there is an elementary method of speaking, as there is an elementary method of writing a language. But, while the oral representation is developed into a more comprehensive method of communication, the elementary mode of writing is persistently adhered to in all languages. There is no way in any language, as a part of the language itself, of writing its words as comprehensively as they are spoken. If Volapük were an ideal tongue in all respects it would avoid this insufficiency of the other languages, by providing an economical means, as a part of its system rather than as a mere addendum for the ready representation of its sounds in writing. Adequate written representation seems to have been either not thought of in the construction of Volapük, or considered as immaterial. As the language, even if it shall be adopted to the extent that its most sanguine promoters expect and all Vpans. hope, will have greater curreney as a written than as a spoken language, the manner of its representation in writing becomes highly important It is now extravagant in writing. It ought to be economical. Why should not a easily-formed system of simple geometric signs be used instead of the expensive Roman letters? Why should the sound of the letter M, for instance, require so much material for its representation? The tendency of the times is ever towards simplieky and economy, in language as all other things, and as well in the manner in which words are written as in their number and length. In the advancement of the arts and sciences the Old English text was found to be too clumsy for every-day use, and had to give way to a simpler form. Why should not Volapük–the language of the future, and a great step towards economical thought expression, adopt the simplest form for the written expressien of its words, as a part of its system, and in harmony with its economical purpose? Is not the present plan susceptible of improvement, and is it not eminently proper that Volapük should be the pioneer in the improvement of written language? No reason can be assigned in answer, except that it would be inexpedient, even if feasible, to overload the system while it is seeking to establish itself.

While from the above partial and somewhat exalted view of the-subject it would appear that there is possibility of improving the manner of writing Volapük, it is questionable, on the other hand, whether any plan depending upon the restricted simple geometric signs could be made sufficiently facile to be practical. As no such radical change could now advisedly be attempted, the question, at least in the present status of the establishment of the language, is abstract, and is presented mainly for the purpose of enlisting interest and inviting disscussion on the subject.

From these considerations the transition is easy to the subject of a Volapük stenography, which is, perhaps, the only solution of the difficulty. While it is plain that many years must elapse before a Volapük shorthand will be needed in the same way that present systems are used, still that it will some time be required no one with faith in the future of the language can doubt. When Volapük shall have become so generally accepted that the business man will understand it, and dictate his correspondence in it directly, rather than in his own language, for subsequent translation, the necessity of an adequate system will be felt. In the meantime, an appropriate system would be acceptable to many Vpans. as a labor-saving method of corresponding in the language, while their experience in its use would be valuable in suggesting improvements.

Various systems of shorthand have been used to some extent during the past few years in Volapük correspondence, but their entire unsuitability for the purpose is apparent. The unique structure of Volapük demands an entirely new system, sui generis.

That attention has been given to the subject by Vpans. is shown by the fact that at the present time there are at least three systems of Volapük stenography extant.

The first system of which the writer has any knowledge is that of H. Roller (Berlin, 1885.) It is entitled "Rollera Stenogaf pegeböl plo Volapük." It is a mere outline, contained in a pamphlet of four pages, with text in German and Volapük. The example marked No. 1 in the cut indicates its general appearance.

In 1886 a brochure printed in Volapük under the title "Tidabuk Lefulnik Stenogafa Volapükik," (pelautöl fa Karl Lenze,) was published in Leipzig. This, though pretentious in title, was a work of but eight small pages, including illustrations and exercises. It appears to be an adaptation of a system of German shorthand by the same author and, like Roller's system uses the connective-vowel plan of writing. Its general appearance is shown in No. 2 of the cut.

A few months ago a third system was presented under the name of "Tidabuk Stenogafa segun sit fa F. X. Gabelsberger, pagebamöl Volapüke fa Raffaele Oreglia D'Isola, plofed Vpa. e Sekretan Vpaklub tälik." It is divided into forty pages of descriptive Volapük text, and sixteen pages of shorthand illustrations and exercises. As its title indicates, it is an adaptation of the Gabelsberger system, and, as will be seen by reference to No. 3 of the illustration, adheres, like the other systems mentioned, to the connective-vowel plan so dear to the Germans.

The writer has also heard of several projected systems of Volapük stenography but does not feel at liberty to state their peculiarities.

It is the main purpose of this article to inquire what an adequate system of Volapük shorthand should be, rather than to give a historical review or analysis of existing systems. It is not necessary to say that a system of language as pretentious for scientific accuracy of construction, and with such possibilities as Volapük, should have its system of shorthand (if it shall not be an inherent part of the language itself) constructed in the best manner, and tully adequate to all requirements. It may not then be out of the way to see what such a system should be; and it is possible much more is required of a suitable Volapük stenography than appears at first sight. Let us then examine into the characteristics of what might be called an ideal stenography for an ideal language.

The first essential of such a system is Legibility, the most important factor in any system of shorthand for any language. For, without Legibility, the representation is incomplete, and if it is incomplete it is not a representation in any proper sense. The proposed system should, therefore, possess this attribute, ab initio. Its materials should be so chosen as to maintain legibility always. Rapidity of work resulting in the formation of strokes only partially resembling what they are intended to be, and in similar characters with different imports, should not make the writing illegible.

The system should allow the highest necessary degree of speed without excessive labor, still maintaining legibility unimpaired, for legibility is practically useless if it is attained at the expense of brevity and vice versa.

As the vowels play an important part in the construction of Volapük because of their use as prefixes and suffixes, their full and correct ex- pression is highly important. A slight change in a vowel sound would entirely alter the meaning of a word, a phrase, or a sentence. While it seems therefore, that the connective-vowel system, on which the stenographies above referred to are built may be best suited in spite of its cumbrousness, to the language, perhaps other means may be found that will better accomplish the desired end. It is certain that the system of shorthand could not be built on the Pitmanic plan, on account of its discarding the vowels, or only partially expressing them. A solution of the difficulty, however, may perhaps be found in some scheme of vowel indication similar to that used in Bishop's Exact Phonography. The great loss of speed consequent on the use of joined-vowel strokes, most effectually excludes that plan from consideration, and leaves the plan suggested as the one in which most likely the proper method may be found.

The signs most easily made should represent the most frequently recurring sounds. In this connection comes the question of adopting light and heavy signs; the maintenance of lineality of writing, and the adoption of the circle and square or the ellipse, or both, as the basis of the system. Other things being equal, a light-line system would be preferable to one composed of both light and heavy signs.

Not the least important consideration is the capability of easily forming derivatives. As Volapük is an inflected language, in which the derivatives are formed from a root-word by the prefixing or suffixing of certain syllables, it is plain that its system of shorthand must provide a ready and accurate means for their formation. In this, as in the representation of the vowels, lie great aids to speed and legibility, and great difficulties to construction.

And, last, the system ought to be capable of being set up in type, and should have an appropriate nomenclature

To conclude, while the systems extant, or any one of those projected may be considered by some Vpans equal at the present time to the work required, it seems to the writer that unless they are made to conform to the principles herein indicated, they cannot become permanently useful. To avoid the possibility of future conflict between rival systems, this subject ought to receive the consideration of the Academy.

At its inception Phonography raised high expectations, of general utility, and it was the hope of many enthusiasts that the system would in time supplant the ordinary mode of writing. Will in a broader sense such a hope ever be realized through a Volapük stenography?

W. J. Hughes
Volapük (Boston) 1 (1888-89), p. 109 cut.jpg

No. 1.–
Menade bal; püki bal.
Poed binom pab su flol menada.

No. 2.–
Gudikums; gletikün; pi-elabol; li-olabom.

No. 3.–
Stenogaf binom kan kel tidom penön in tüp üno blefik e in spod üno smalik.
Vofapük, -ik, -el, -ön, -atidel, -aplofed.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).