The language can easily be understood by any speaker of a Germanic language (a group numbering over 110 million native speakers with an additional 300 to 900 million speaking English which is nearly-Germanic) without much teaching. For example, a native speaker of German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Afrikaans, Yiddish or some other Germanic language, can understand a sentence like ᛁᛣᛣ ᚻᚪᚹ ᛋᛣᚱᛁᚹᛏ ᛖᚾ ᛞᛖ ᛒᚢᛣ/Ik hav skrivt en de buk with little or no thought.
Design goals include
- intelligible with little or no training to Germanic speakers
- simple enough for ease of learning to write or speak about normal topics
- precise enough to deal with more complex topics (e.g. science, maybe philosophy)
where the importance descends from first to last.
The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania, and Southern Africa.
The main North Germanic languages are Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish, which have a combined total of about 20 million speakers.
The East Germanic branch included Gothic, Burgundian, and Vandalic, all of which are now extinct. The last to die off was Crimean Gothic, spoken until the late 18th century in some isolated areas of Crimea.
The West Germanic languages include the three most widely spoken Germanic languages: English with around 360–400 million native speakers; German, with over 100 million native speakers; and Dutch, with 23 million native speakers. Other West Germanic languages include Afrikaans, an offshoot of Dutch, with over 7.1 million native speakers; Low German, considered a separate collection of unstandardized dialects, with roughly 0.3 million native speakers and assuming 6.7—10 million people who can understand it (5 million in Germany and 1.7 million in the Netherlands); Yiddish, once used by approximately 13 million Jews in pre-World War II Europe and Scots, both with 1.5 million native speakers; Limburgish varieties with roughly 1.3 million speakers along the Dutch–Belgian–German border; and the Frisian languages with over 0.5 million native speakers in the Netherlands and Germany.
The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic, also known as Common Germanic, which was spoken in about the middle of the 1st millennium BC in Iron Age Scandinavia. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, is characterized by a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant change known as Grimm's law.
- The sound changes known as Grimm's Law and Verner's Law.
- The development of a strong stress on the first syllable of the word.
- A change known as Germanic umlaut, which modified vowel qualities.
- Large numbers of vowel qualities.
- Verb second (V2) word order, which is uncommon cross-linguistically.
- The reduction of the various tense and aspect combinations of the Indo-European verbal system into only two: the present tense and the past tense (also called the preterite).
- A large class of verbs that use a dental suffix (/d/ or /t/) instead of vowel alternation (Indo-European ablaut) to indicate past tense.
- Some words with etymologies that are difficult to link to other Indo-European families but with variants that appear in almost all Germanic languages.
Folksprak would have an assured home in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, part of Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Ireland, parts of South Africa, parts of Namibia, and Suriname. The extent to which it would be adopted in the partitioned United States, Canada, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and places with various Creoles would be left to the individual regions.
There are some outliers, in terms of sounds, but an overall, broad consensus. The presence of /x/ is strange to English-speakers, but otherwise ubiquitous. However, /ɣ/ is not universal. /ð/ and /θ/ are also rare. English and Yiddish are missing the otherwise common front-rounded vowels. In general, all these languages have an abundance of vowels, as noted above. /w/ is often missing.
Everyone has m, n, ŋ ,p, t, k, b, d, l, r*, s, h*, y, f, v, though Icelandic has aspirated vs. unaspirated, as opposed to voiced vs unvoiced; r's vary widely, h's are sometimes voiced.
All these places and people currently use the Latin alphabet. However, in order to move towards a greater cultural identity, a uniquely Germanic writing system should be employed. The only candidate from history is runes.
The groundwork has been laid of establishing Proto-Germanic roots to re-evolve into modern forms, via a neutral process of flat sound changes. These rules and some comparative analysis of current vocabularies is sufficient to create vocabulary. Templatic and exception-less patterns (somewhat agglutinative in nature) can describe most morphological and morphosyntactic structures needed.
As a less dominant auxlang, Folksprak should be installed in the Nordic and mainland European countries first, before it is attempted in the English-speaking world. Presumably, much of the New World will go with Intralingua, but perhaps the descendants of German immigrants in America, Australia, and New Zealand will choose Folksprak. 'best not to work out the kinks in a rocky situation!