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The Briefscript Project


A short history of the project

The genesis of 'briefscript' dates back to the mid 1950s when I learnt Speedwords by correspondence course from its inventor, Reginald John Garfield Dutton (born 8th November 1886 in Nottingham, UK; in 1890 his family moved to Skegness in Lincolnshire and he lived there till his death on 23rd June 1970).


I was intrigued at Dutton's idea of a "World Brief-Script", i.e. a constructed language that could serve both as an international auxiliary language (IAL) and as an alphabetic shorthand. But as I got to know the language, I found certain aspects of it unsatisfatory and wondered if I could do any better.

In my late teens I experimented with several schemes, including the use of Roman letters as a syllabary. But partly because I was never satisfied with such solutions and also because of my concern that morphemes be self-segregating, in my early twenties another scheme took shape. This scheme never got a proper name and, indeed, after marriage it lay dormant for very many years as the constraints of work and a growing family left little time for such things. It was not until the early 1990s when I got on-line and joined the Conlang and Auxlang groups that interest was rekindled.

This second scheme is what I used to call 'briefscript' on the Auxlang and Conlang lists, and always in quotes as shown. Dutton had used the term briefscript as a common noun; I simply adopted it as a sort of "place-holder" until I could think up a proper name for the language. The quotes were meant to show its use a a place-holder, waiting for its own proper name. We may now call this form of the Project "Classical Briefscript".

Several things happened after I joined the two lists.

  • The scheme I had outlined for Classical Briefscript came in for much needed criticism as regards its use of consonants, and thus got modified.
  • I have became and remain very disenchanted with the bigotry and bitterness of IAL politics. I have no intention or promoting Classical Briefscript or any other language as an IAL (The menu option "My view of IALs" gives more detail).
  • The term 'briefscript' got abbreviated by some to BrSc (which I also adopted but continued to pronounce the abbreviation as 'briefscript').
  • Later, other changes took place, and two prototypes came into being: BrScA (Briefscript version A) which followed the traditions set in Classical Briefscript; and BrScB (Briefscript version B) which revived the idea of a Roman letter syllabary.
  • It became apparent, however, that the abbreviations BrSc, BrScA and BrScB were not only awkard to type but also were being taken a the actual names of the languages and being given all sorts of pronunciations! This was clearly unsatisfactory and in January 2005 the abbreviations BrSc, BrScA and BrScB were abandoned:
    I propose that:
    1. as a generic term for both possible developments, I revert to the term briefscript instead of BrSc;
    2. the language hitherto dubbed 'BrScA' be named _bax_;
    3. the language hitherto dubbed 'BrScB' be named _brx_.
  • Bax, pronounced [pi'aːçi] and anglicized as Piashi, was developed as a single form of the language. This was formally abandoned in October 2009:
    One of the two aims of Piashi is to "serve as an international auxiliary language (IAL)." …
    The other aim of Piashi was to create a language "which, when written alphabetically, can serve as an alphabetic shorthand."
    It seems to me that:
    - English is, for better or worse, the current de facto global auxlang;
    - there already exist 'alphabetic shorthand' varieties, e.g. Speedwriting, Textese (also known as: chatspeak, txtspk, txtk) etc.
    Therefore, the two primary aims of Piashi have already been met.
  • Brx, pronounced ['puɺaçi] and anglicised as Pulashi, was a revival I began in August 2011 which adapted an earlier BrScB scheme to avoid the unsatisfactory compromise orthography and pronunciation of Piashi. But as work effectively ground to a halt in May of 2012 and as the considerations I wrote above when I abandoned Piashi are still valid, I also formally abandoned Brx in April 2013. I was prompted by Ars Glossopoetic (Festschrift edited by Jörg Rhiemeier and presented to me on the occasion of my 80th birthday, 15th January 2019) to revive it but I have found work on another conlang project, Britainese, takes up too much time and I have reluctantly but finally abandoned Brx.

The Briefscript Project pages

The pages give fuller details of the history and development of the language. They are set out thus (links are given in the navigation bar menu):

  1. The Briefscript Project home page
    and the page about "My view of IALs".
  2. Speedwords
    These pages tell where more information may be found about Dutton's Speedwords, outline the four features I found unsatisfactory and finish with a short note about pronunciation. Appendices to these pages:
    - explain the Speedwords itollis and evue;
    - give examples of two other artificial languages, Babm & Lin, which might be considered briefscripts;
    - give the 1951 Speedwords Dictionary in full as a PDF.
  3. Abandoned schemes
    There are six pages: one describes Classical Briefscript (aka BrScA); the second describes two methods of using Roman letters as syllabaries (aka BrScB); the third gives the design principles of both Bax (Piashi) and Brx (Pulashi); the fourth gives the quasi-syllabary of Bax (Piashi); the fifth gives the Brx (Pulashi) syllabary; and the sixth discusses the morphology of Bax/ Brx.
    I give the pages in case any others may find things of interest there and, indeed, may wish to develop any of my earlier ideas themselves.
    Please feel free to use any of the ideas found within these pages if you wish, on condition that:
    1. If you acknowledge your source, which it would be polite to do, and you do not imply that I endorse your own project.
    2. You do not call your project/ language 'briefscript', BrSc, BrScA, BrScB, Piashi, Bax or any name so similar as to cause confusion with my own abandoned schemes.
    3. You show respect for anyone else who may be adapting any of my ideas.
    4. You do not presume to claim to know my mind or to be doing what I would have done.