Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2021

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Program


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)




This paper analyzes the phonological process present in the word-borrowing process in Volapük nulik, the later version of Volapük – one of the world’s first constructed international auxiliary languages that achieved more than a million speakers – through an analogy with the loanword adaptation process taking place in a natural language. It examines the emergent phonological patterns within this process, despite the inherited arbitrariness of any constructed languages, and compares them with the prescriptive rules regulating the word-borrowing process featured in its grammar. The paper is divided into three parts: Part I generalizes the syllable shape in Volapük from a 1000-base sample wordlist and compares it in general with the prescriptivism of De Jong (1931); Part II provides a mandatory syllable template from the result in Part I; Part III then explains the analogous loanword adaptation process in Volapük further with an approach of Optimality Theory and offers ranking information of a variety of constraints deemed relevant in the process. The result of the descriptive analysis not only indicates a consistency between the descriptive data and the prescriptive rules, i.e., all prescriptive rules are proven to be applicable and mandatory, but also reveals additional syllable patterns that are not explicitly mentioned in its prescriptive grammar. Furthermore, OT analysis indicates that, despite a contradiction due to the arbitrary nature of the language, constraints relevant to the formation of the mandatory syllable shape are generally ranked higher than other faithfulness constraints, which suggests a preference for maintaining the prescribed syllable structure in the analogous loanword adaptation process in Volapük.


Nicholas Danis

Additional Advisors

Brett Kessler

Supplement1.xlsx (99 kB)
This spreadsheet is a word-list containing 1000 Volapük bases.

Supplement2.html (308 kB)
This is a .html file of the Jupyter notebook containing commands and data examined in Python for the descriptive analysis.

Supplement2.ipynb (18 kB)
This file is the original Jupyter notebook containing the commands and data examined in Python for the descriptive analysis.

Supplement3.docx (23 kB)
This file contains all commands produced in R for the descriptive analysis of vowel sequences.

Supplement4.xlsx (12 kB)
This file contains all data necessary in the procedures of calculating the final p values for the descriptive analysis of the vowel sequences.