The History of Folkspraak


Folkspraak (or Folksprok) developed in the mid-1960's as a pidgin speech used by and among an interdenominational and international monastic community located in an abandoned medieval convent on a small island off the western coast of Denmark. The experiment only lasted a few years, but it produced a flurry of interest when the religious community began to put out tourist guides, religious texts, and other writings in a newly constructed language that they called Folksprok (later Folkspraak).

In the spirit of brother(and sister-)hood that marked the community, the English, American, Dutch, Danish, German, Norwegian, and Swedish members of the "Bruderhof" had begun to coin new terms that combined bits and pieces of each of their languages.  Whichever terms caught on, they continued to use.

Eventually, some of the members compiled a short dictionary, grammar, and phrase-book describing Folksprok. When visitors asked about the new but easily-learned speech of the community, they were offered copies at a nominal price.

Folksprok, as it was known in those days, became a fad in the late 1960's among students and 'internationalists', but faltered when the monastic community became embroiled in a dispute with Danish authorities over the naming of the monastery's beer.  Danish nationalists were upset that the monastery's ale was called "Folkbier", which sounded too Germanic or Dutch. They pressured Danish authorities to retract the brewing license, and as this was a major source of revenue for the community, their fortunes suffered.

The community disbanded in 1972, but the Dutch brothers and sisters maintained a house in Rotterdam, and continued to practice speaking in Folkspraak, a dialectical variation of the original tongue. The last issue of "Folktidskrift" their newsletter, was published in 1983. A Folkspraak newsgroup reportedly is occasionally active on the Internet at this time.