AskDefine | Define folk

Dictionary Definition

folk

Noun

1 people in general; "they're just country folk"; "the common people determine the group character and preserve its customs from one generation to the next" [syn: common people]
2 a social division of (usually preliterate) people [syn: tribe]
3 people descended from a common ancestor; "his family has lived in Massachusetts since the Mayflower" [syn: family, family line, kinfolk, kinsfolk, sept, phratry]
4 the traditional and typically anonymous music that is an expression of the life of people in a community [syn: folk music, ethnic music]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Alternative spellings

Etymology

folc.

Pronunciation

  • , /fəʊk/, /f@Uk/
    Rhymes with: -əʊk

Adjective

  1. Of or pertaining to the folk of a land, their culture, tradition or history.

Noun

  1. A grouping of smaller peoples or tribes as a nation.
  2. The inhabitants of a region especially the native inhabitants.
  3. (plural, folks) One’s relatives especially one’s parents.
  4. i plural People in general.
  5. i plural A particular group of people.

Related terms

Danish

Noun

  1. A people.
  2. People in general.

Norwegian

Noun

  1. A people.
  2. People in general.

Old Frisian

Noun

  1. People, folk

Scots

Alternative spellings

Noun

  1. People, folk.

Swedish

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. A people.
  2. People in general.

West Frisian

Noun

  1. People, folk

Extensive Definition

Folk is one of the Germanic roots that mean "(of) the people" or "our people" (as opposed to different clans, tribes, or nations). The English word folk has cognates in most of the other Germanic languages. Folk may be a Germanic root that is unique to the Germanic languages, and not derived directly from Indo-European; though some non-Germanic cognates such as Latin vulgus, "the common people", have been suggested.

Etymology

The Modern English word "folk", derives from Old English "folc" meaning "common people", "men", "tribe" or "multitude". The Old English noun itself came from Proto-Germanic "*fulka" which perhaps originally referred to a "host of warriors". Compare Old Norse "folk" meaning "people" but more so "army" or "detachment", German "Gefolge" (host), and Lithuanian "pulkas" meaning "crowd". The latter is considered to be an early Lithuanian loanword from Germanic origin, cf. Belarusian "полк" - "połk" meaning regiment and German "Pulk" for a group of persons standing together.
The word became colloquialized (usually in the plural "folks") in English in the sense "people", and was considered unelegant by the beginning of the 19th century. It re-entered academic English through the invention of the word folklore in 1846 by the antiquarian William J. Thoms (1803-85) as an Anglo-Saxonism. This word revived folk in a modern sense of "of the common people, whose culture is handed down orally", and opened up a flood of compound formations, eg. folk art (1921), folk-hero (1899), folk-medicine (1898), folk-tale (1891), folk-song (1847), folk-dance (1912). Folk-music is from 1889; in reference to the branch of modern popular music (originally associated with Greenwich Village in New York City) it dates from 1958. It is also regional music.

Cognates in other Germanic language

Folk has a cognate in almost every other Germanic language, all deriving from Proto-Germanic "*fulka", some are listed below:
In all Germanic languages, the variant of "folk" means "people" or something related to the people.

Folk in German

For other uses, see Volk (disambiguation).

Background

In German the word Volk can have several different meanings, such as folk (simple people), people in the ethnic sense, and nation.
German Volk is commonly used as the first, determing part (head) of compound nouns such as Volksentscheid (plebiscite, lit. "decision of/by the people") or Völkerbund'' (League of Nations), or the car manufacturer Volkswagen (literally, "people's car").

19th century and early 20th century

A number of völkisch movements existed prior to World War I. Combining interest in folklore, ecology, occultism and romanticism with ethnic nationalism, their ideologies were a strong influence on the Nazi party, which itself was inspired by Adolf Hitler's membership of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers' Party), even though Hitler in Mein Kampf himself denounced usage of the word völkisch as he considered it too vague as to carry any recognizable meaning due to former over-use. Today, the term völkisch is largely restricted to historical contexts describing the closing 19th century and early 20th century up to Hitler's seize of power in 1933, especially during the years of the Weimar Republic.

Nazi era

During the years of the Third Reich, the term Volk became heavily used in nationalistic political slogans, particularly in slogans such as Volk ohne Raum — "(a) people without space" or Völkischer Beobachter ("popular observer"), an NSDAP party newspaper. Also the political slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer ("One people, one country/empire, one leader").
Even though Hitler in his book Mein Kampf often mixed up specific biological and zoological terms such as race, species, and others, the Nazi-era use of Volk could not, depending on context, be interpreted as "race", "Germanic", or "European." In Nazi propaganda, several peoples made up a race, so these two terms did not denote the same thing during the Nazi years. The German people was considered part of the Germanic race which latter officially included the Scandinavians, the English, and the Dutch as well (while Hitler himself also included the Celts), so Volk did not equal Germanic either. Nazi-era publications on pre-history only differed whether their Germanic race equalled the Indo-European race or the Germanic race itself was part of a family of Indo-European races, since indogermanisch is the common German term for Indo-European.

Today

Because Volk is the generic German word for "people" in the ethnic sense today as well as for "people entitled to vote" (Wahlvolk), its use does not necessarily denote any particular political views in post-1945 Germany. However, because of its past, the word is rarely used with Bevölkerung serving as a substitute.

References

  • Henning Eichberg (2004), The People of Democracy. Understanding Self-Determination on the Basis of Body and Movement. (= Movement Studies. 5) Århus: Klim (Theory of folk, people, and civil society with Scandinavian background)
  • Emerich K. Francis (1965) Ethnos und Demos. Soziologische Beiträge zur Volkstheorie. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot (classical German-American sociology of folk, ethnos and demos)
  • Emerich K. Francis (1976) Interethnic Relations. An Essay in Sociological Theory. New York u.a.: Elsevier.
  • Raphael Samuel (1981) (ed.), People’s History and Socialist Theory. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
folk in Catalan: Poble
folk in Chuvash: Халăх
folk in German: volk
folk in Spanish: Pueblo (sociedad)
folk in Hindi: लोग
folk in Italian: Popolo
folk in Latin: Populus
folk in Dutch: Volk
folk in Portuguese: Povo
folk in Russian: Народ
folk in Simple English: People

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Everyman, John Doe, Public, acknowledged, admitted, animal kingdom, blood, body politic, breed, brood, citizenry, clan, class, common man, commonwealth, community, community at large, constituency, conventional, cultural community, customary, deme, dwellers, established, estate, ethnic group, everybody, everyman, everyone, everywoman, family, fixed, folks, general public, gens, gentry, habitancy, hallowed, handed down, heroic, hoary, house, household, immemorial, inhabitants, inveterate, kind, kindred, legendary, line, lineage, linguistic community, long-established, long-standing, matriclan, men, menage, mythological, nation, nationality, of long standing, of the folk, oral, order, patriclan, people, people at large, people in general, persons, phratry, phyle, plant kingdom, polity, populace, population, prescriptive, public, race, received, recognized, rooted, sept, society, species, speech community, state, stem, stirps, stock, strain, time-honored, totem, traditional, tribe, tried and true, true-blue, understood, unwritten, venerable, whole people, world, worshipful, you and me
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