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The Briefscript Project

Babm and Lin

The purpose of this page is to show two examples of briefscripts which are not relexifications of English. It would be more satisfactory, perhaps, if the St. Joan passage given in on the "Speedwords is (largely) a relexification of English" page in International Symbolic Script and three different versions of Speedwords, were translated into Babm and Lin. Unfortunately, this is not possible as R. Srikanth has not, as far as I know, given Lin sufficient vocabulary to do this. I have no doubt that a translation into Babm is possible, but I do not know the language nearly well enough to attempt this.

Lin was developed specifically as an experiment to see how compact a language could be. R. Srikanth used some ingenious methods to maximize not merely "word compression" but, indeed, phrase and clause compression. It would be difficult, I think, to produce a significantly more compact language. It is more compact than Speedwords is and, I expect, Piashi will be. But Srikanth did not intend Lin to be an IAL and, therefore, was able to concentrate on the single aim of brevity, so this is only to be expected. But, although Lin is not, for various reasons, suitable as an IAL, it does contain ideas worthy of consideration by someone designing a briefscript, for whatever reason.

Babm, on the other hand, was specifically designed as an IAL and, therefore, does afford direct comparison with Speedwords as regards brevity or compactness.


The name is pronounced [bɔ'ɑ:bɔmu] and the language was created by Fuishiki Okamoto (Universal Auxiliary Language Babm, Tokyo, 1962). The language thus shares one of the same goals as Speedwords: to be a universal IAL.

Okamoto did not express the aim that his language should also be an alphabetic shorthand. But in fact the language does achieve brevity. One of the reasons for this is that: "...Roman letters are used in quite a different way from existing European languages, namely the pronunciation of the letters is especially determined for every letter respectively..... The respective utterance is the same as the name of letters in Babm carefully chosen among the most clear voices, avoiding any similar sound, so that there is no troublesome need to make some pronunciation by combining a consonant with a vowel."

In otherwords, Okamoto uses the Roman letters not as an alphabet but as a syllabary (as indeed we see in pronunciation of the name Babm).

In fact the same idea had quite independently occurred to me before I knew about Babm. In the late 1950s I experimented with schemes for a "Roman syllabary". In my case, of course, it was specificlly with the aim of achieving brevity.

Three sample sentences:

The three examples are taken from Okamoto's book with his English translation. For the sake of interest, I have added the Speedwords translation for comparison as Speedwords has been claimed to be "the Universal Word-Compression system". To facilitate comparison, monotype font is used for the sentence in each of the three languages.

Babm:  Bcet cojao op clob rayb.
English:  In a civilized society, persons are quite free.
Speedwords:  I u sokyd sok, erz e ga libs.
Babm:  V ch migip, V meiqipiru.
English:  If I had studied, I should not have failed in the examination.
Speedwords:  X j hy stu, j yr n h suko i l tese.
Babm:  Kodb cmoh kig.
English:  The care of health is absolutely necessary.
Speedwords:  L ene d san e gae nes.


Lin is the creation of R. Srikanth who used to post to the Conlang list under the pseudonym 'Skrintha'. He said of his language:

"Lin is a spacially compact language........
"Lin derives its compactness from the use of small words, avoiding to state contextually-inferrable information and allowing polysemy (multiplicity of meanings) of words which is disambiguated by means of morphology that takes up inter-word spaces."

In fact it was an experiment to see how far compactness could be taken. It is thus clearly a briefscript, but with its polysemy (in practice words generally have enneasemy, i.e. nine possible meanings, but a few have a tenth possible meaning) and its system of 'external and internals cements' (the disambiguating inter-word morphology), few people would deem it suitable as an IAL and Srikanth did not have that aim in mind.

Unlike Babm, it uses the Roman alphabet as an alphabet, i.e. some letters denote vowels and most denote consonants. However, Srikanth departs from traditional practice in that upper and lower case letters are considered as separate letters and given their own separate sounds. Just as in Welsh, so in Lin, 'w' and 'y' are vowels; thus there are 14 constant vowels {a, e, i, o, u, w, y, A, E, I, O, U, W, Y}. The remaining 38 (19 x 2) letters are consonants. Each letter has its own individual sound. As in Speedwords, single consonants can be and, indeed, normally are, separate morphemes; but, unlike Speedwords, one simple rule with no exceptions is used to make otherwise vowel-less consonants pronounceable.

In addition there are symbols known as 'variables'; these are the digits 1 to 9, and the symbols +, =, \, |, *, :, ^, % as well as the single space. They are used for the disambiguating inter-word morphology. If a variable is sandwiched between consonants it has a vocalic value (the digits being simple vowels and the non-digit symbols being nasal vowels), but if juxtaposed to a vowel it acts as a tone and length diacritic to the vowel. Just to add to he fun, certain symbols, namely (, ), {, }, [, ], <, >, ' and `, have syllabic value.

Needless to say, having 23 non-nasal vowels, 9 nasal vowels and 38 different consonants means an inventory of sounds which will include some many people will not find easy; but as Lin is not intended as an IAL this is not a problem.

In 1999 Srikanth made Lin (version 4.3) files available but the address is no longer in use. Fortunately at the time I downloaded and made hard copies of all the Lin files. In response to requests, I edited and posted the information to the Conlang list in nine emails during April 2002.

When this page was created, Lin version 5.0.3 was on the web, but this also has since been taken down.

Three sample sentences:

The three examples are taken from Srikanth's own version 4.3 examples. Once again, for the sake of interest, I have added the Speedwords translation for comparison and used monotype font for the sentence in each of the three languages.

Lin:  u v px # s -v u
English:  You see the bird but it doesn't see you.
Speedwords:  V vu l avi b t n vu v.
Lin:  ki Q#4f
English:  The child fears to be asked.
Speedwords:  L junr brax e axd.
Lin:  i c sb>N T
English:  I am searching for dogs who know secrets.
Speedwords:  J e ser zofz qu sa hilz.