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The Briefscript Project

Objectives and Design Principles

These are the objectives and design principles of Bax (Piashi) and Brx (Pulashi)
Note: the phonetic transcription in these pages is a broad transcription.


To create a language:

  1. which, when written alphabetically, can serve as an alphabetic shorthand*
  2. which can, if desired, serve as an international auxiliary language (IAL)

The two objectives above were thosse of Reginal Dutton's Internationl Symbolic Script of 1935, and of its subsequent revisions known as Speedwords (1936, 1946, 1951); they are, presumably, also the objectives of systems derived from or inspired by Speedwords such as Iso and Xmal. They remain the objectives of Brx, which was inspired by Speedwords, even though I shall not tout it as an IAL.

* Dutton used the Roman alphabet and so shall I. But the system could also be mapped onto Cyrillic, Greek or similar alphabets.

Design principles

Most of the 12 design principles derive from consideration of Speedwords; this is hardly surprising as the language took its inspiration from Speedwords. We begin with two design principles which are inherited from the final (1951) version of Speedwords, followed by eight principles derived from discussion of the four features of Speedwords that I was unhappy about. Finally there are two principles which, in my opinion, ought to apply to any artificial IAL.

Inherited from Speedwords (final version)

  1. Words need to be as short as possible, therefore morphemes should consist of no more than three letters at the most.*
  2. Use should be made not only of one vowel morphemes but also morphemes written with one consonant.
* In earlier versions of Speedwords Dutton did have some four letter root morphemes such as iflu (influence) and ling (language); but these all went in the 1951 revision (ifluilu, linglin) and the final version of Speedwords had morphemes of only one, two or three letters.

From Speedwords morphemes are not self-segregating

  1. It should be clear how morphemes are divided; the learner should not be presented with words that could be analyzed in more than one way.

From Speedwords Pronunciation is complicated

  1. Each letter should denote only one basic sound.
  2. There should be only one or two simple rules for the pronunciation of single consonant morphemes, and there should be no exceptions to these rules.

From Speedwords word-building presents problems

  1. Affixes must be as clearly defined as possible in order to avoid semantic ambiguity and should not be used in unpredictable and idiomatic ways.
  2. There must be properly defined principles for the compounding of words; there should be no exceptions and no idiomatic meanings given to compounds.
  3. The inventory of lexical morphemes should not be so small that frequent use has to be made of compounds which are longer than their equivalents in natural languages such as English.

From Speedwords is (largely) a relexification of English

  1. If syntactic relations are shown by word-order, then clear rules must be given.
  2. The syntax and grammar of the language should be determined by the needs of the language itself and not be a slavish copy of some other language.

Other requirements of an IAL

  1. Phonemes should be restricted to those that most people in the world already know or can learn to pronounce easily.
  2. Semantic distinctions that are not compulsorily grammaticalized in many of the world's languages should not be compulsorily grammaticalized in an IAL.