briefscript logo

The Briefscript Project

Speedwords: genesis of the Briefscript Project

Where to find information about Speedwords

If you do not know Speedwords, you may wish to look at one or more of these three sites:

  1. For many years Richard Kennaway's Conlang directory has contained information about Speedwords. Currently, you will find:
  2. When I wrote this page in 2003 I gave pointers to New Congress's "Dutton Speedwords Official Site" and to Bob Petry's "the only official Speedwords web-site." Neither of these links are any longer active; an archived version of the latter may be found by clicking here. There is also a WebCite page with biographical notes on Reginald Dutton.

What features of Speedwords prompted Briefscript Project?

There were principally two features I came not to like in my late teens? There are:

  1. that Speedword roots and affixes are not self-segregating
    (This page links to "So what do itollis and evue actually mean?": an examination of the structure of these two words)
  2. that the rules of pronunciation are complicated and kludgey.

There were also two other features which were not so prominent in my mind at that time but were certainly there and, over the years, have helped mould my design principles for BrSc; they are:

  1. that word-building presents problems
    (This page also links to "So what do itollis and evue actually mean?")
  2. that Speedwords is (largely) a relexification of English.

(As I have said, these links are not intended as an attack on Speedwords per se. No human artifact can ever be perfect. I have no problem whatever if people are happy with Speedwords as designed by Dutton and wish to use it. At one time I was very interested but, in my case, as time went on I became more and more unhappy with it and this led to the slow genesis of BrScr. I am merely explaining those issues that caused me to be unhappy with the product.)


A note on the pronunciation

The pronunciationrules which I found unsatisfacxtory are those that given in " Dutton World Speedwords" (1943) and "Dutton Double-Speed Words" (1943); they were perpetuated in the editions of 1945 and 1946. It is the pronunciation I learnt and, as far as I know, the only full account to be published, and is the source of the notes on the pronunciation of Speedwords on Richard Kennaway's site.

A member of the New Congress has told me that the Congress has come upon at least three different methods of pronunciation. The one I know is the most widely circulated and also, it seems, the most complicated. I am told the Congress was fortunate enough to lay hands on copies of original papers from the Dutton estate from his late daughter, Elizabeth, and that in these papers Dutton revised the pronunciation.

This last revision, I am told, was much easier to work with and I understand that the New Congress has adopted it, with one minor modification. This method has never been published and was, of course, not known to me in the late 1950s. Indeed, although I have requested details, I have received none and, regretfully, still remain entirely ignorant of them.