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RE: [linguamundi] Resumen nº 984

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  • Ray Bergmann
    Jacques Dehée ja scrive: It is interesting to establish the theory of the shortest possible auxlang. For example the word b must be pronounced ba and
    Mensaje 1 de 1 , 27 nov 2007
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      Jacques Dehée ja scrive: " It is interesting to establish the theory of the shortest possible auxlang. For example the word 'b' must be pronounced 'ba' and mean 'by': each consonant not followed by a vowel is pronounced with a not written 'a'.

      Ray responde: En Babm (pronunsiada: bo-a-bo-mu) letera b es a tota tempo pronunsiada [bo] e letera m es a tota tempo pronunsiada [mu]. Japanese philosopher Rikichi [Fuishiki] Okamoto (1885–1963) published the language in Universal Auxiliary Language Babm, Tokyo, 1962. The language shares one of the same goals as Speedwords: to be a universal IAL. Okamoto uses the Roman letters not as an alphabet but as a syllabary (as indeed we see in pronunciation of the name Babm).

      In Babm Roman letters are named and unexceptionally pronounced as follows:
      a[a:]as a in arm [a:m],
      b[bo]exceedingly short as bo in boil [boil],
      c[ko]exceedingly short as co in coin [koin],
      d[de]exceedingly short as de in dense [dens],
      e[e:]much longer than e in every [evri],
      f[fu]exceedingly short as fu in full [ful],
      g[ga]much shorter than ga in garden [ga:dn],
      h[ha]much shorter than ha in hard [ha:d],
      i[i:]as e in even [i:ven],
      j[zi]exceedingly short as zi in zinc [ziNGk],
      k[ke]exceedingly short as ke in kettle [ketl],
      l[le]exceedingly short as le in leg [leg],
      m[mu]much shorter than mo in move [mu:v],
      n[na]much shorter than na in nasty [na:sty],
      o[o:]as o in order [o:de],
      p[pe]exceedingly short as pe in pen [pen],
      q[ku]exceedingly short as coo in cook [kuk],
      r[ra]much shorter than ra in rather [rae],
      s[se]exceedingly short as se in sense [sens],
      t[to]exceedingly short as to in toy [toi],
      u[u:]as ou in wound [wu:nd],
      v[vi]exceedingly short as vi in visit [vizit],
      w[wa]much shorter than wa in waft [wa:ft],
      x[ki]exceedingly short as ki in king [kiNG],
      y[ju]much shorter than you in youth [ju:TH],
      z[zo]exceedingly short as zo in zoril [zoril].

      Here are three examples taken from Okamoto's book with his English translation and the Speedwords translation  is added here for comparison as Speedwords has also been claimed to be a "Universal Word-Compression system":
      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, the creation of R. Srikanth is another briefscript but with its polysemy (words generally have nine possible meanings) Lin is not intended to be an IAL. Unlike Babm, Lin 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 so there are 14 vowels {a, e, i, o, u, w, y, A, E, I, O, U, W, Y} and the remaining 38 (19 x 2) letters are consonants. Each letter has its own individual sound. As in Speedwords, single consonants are separate morphemes; but, unlike Speedwords, one simple rule with no exceptions is used to make vowel-less consonants pronounceable. Lin uses "variables" (the digits 1 to 9, and the symbols +, =, \, |, *, :, ^, % as well as the single space) 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. The symbols (, ), {, }, [, ], <, >, ' and ` also 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; and this is why Lin is not suitable as an IAL. R. Srikanth has now put Lin version 5.0.3 on the web at

      Lin-English Lexicon (Table of single-letter words and their nine meanings)

      Word Adjective Noun Verbs
      a good, beautiful, deep God, love, beginning help, grant,    
      b dear, near, **** static I/O medium, feeling, application show, ****, ****
      c clear, ****, **** search, choice, solution fall/drop, ****, ****
      d different, deep, **** non-static medium info, effort, **** follow, fly, ****
      e same, long, **** he/it, work, energy close, ****, ****
      f basic, great, physicalthought, action/doing, attraction bring, fear, ****
      g all, wise, **** belief, upholdment, definition suffice, ****, ****
      hhappy, tall, heavyanimate being, station, test have, keep, rise
      i important, intresting, internal I/we, desire, entrance become, use, contain
      jeach, reasonable, functionalevent, victory, union/joining go, ****, ****
      k difficult, sharp, bitter cause, building/construction, game put, flow, ****
      lfree, ****, ****permission, progress, laughterinput from static medium, light, ****, ****
      m many, attentive, sweet movement, management, mark be possible,matter/be relevant, suit
      nnew, sure, ****she/they, agreement, surpriseneed, ****, ****
      o other, compelete, round she/they, agreement, surprise open, ****, ****
      pbig, simple, ****meaning, proof, introductioncan, ****, ****
      q real, strange, **** question, investigation, value understand, ****, ****
      rsafe, ****, ****existence, presence, protectionfill, ****, ****
      s quiet, calm, tranquil it, arrangement, meeting correct, ****, ****
      tcareful, secretive, ****think, part, breakagepush, ****, ****
      uunimportant, boring, externalyou, dispassion, departurepersist, waste, not-contain
      vfast, wakeful, special change, control/management, trade/businessmust, ****, ****
      wwide, angry, ****something given, barrier, treatmentwait, attack, ****
      xsacred, mysterious, mysticbirth, way, lifeconceal, ****, ****
      ybad, ugly, shallowmanifested world, hat, endwait, attack, ****
      znatural, ****, ****Sleep, life, instrumentforget, ****, ****

      Here are three examples taken from Srikanth's version 4.3. Once again, the Speedwords translation is added for comparison:
      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.

      At BABM is explained in Esperanto:


      Silabaro kaj elparolo

      En BABM la literoj de la latina alfabeto estas uzataj kiel silabaro, t.e. ĉiu litero/silabosigno havas silaban valoron. Ekzemple, la nomo de la lingvo mem, "BABM", prononciĝas "boabomu".


      BABM ne havas artikolojn kaj ne helpverbojn. Nomoj havas tri konsonantojn kaj unu vokalon; verboj, unu aŭ du vokalojn inter du konsonantoj.
      La signifon de vorto indikas ĝiaj du unuaj literoj:
      La nomoj de elementoj kaj ĝiaj komponatoj komencas per litero F kaj finas per J aŭ ÉJ; inter F kaj la finaĵo oni metas la simbolo de elemento, ekz. foj: oksigeno; fcod~j (karbona gazo). Por indiki la ĉefa elemento em substanco, oni enmetas la literon V: fclv (klorido), fkclv (potasa klorido).
      Nombroj (1-10): b [bo:], d [de:], f [fu:], g [ga:], h [ha:], z [zi:], k [ke:], l [le:], m [mu:], a [a:].


      1. Cwq can? Kiom da?
      2. Cec f~. Nur tri.
      3. Qwh? Kioma la horo?
      4. M~dh e dcod, M~dhciod. 21-a horo.
      5. Cwq hatr ed ci hatj? Kiu paĝo de ĉi tiu libro?
      6. Ãh~atr. Paĝo 15-a.
      7. Cwq sran? Kiom kostas?
      8. D~å sheg. 20 laboroj.
      9. Qwp sarp? Kie estas la merkato?
      10. Dajkcelz1 ed ci txef. Okcidente de la strato.
      11. Qwd fok? Kion vi petis?
      12. Gnop, bi jap at gecb a gofb ac kdop. Bifstekon, sed mi manĝis ĝin kun legomoj kaj fruktoj pro la sano.
      13. Com2 dcoc. Bonan matenon!
      14. Com2 decn, Comdno. Bonan tagon!
      15. Com2 dacs. Bonan vesperon!
      16. Hos. Mi revenos.
      17. Cw hos? Ĉu vi revenos?
      18. Heih3. Adiaŭ!
      19. Cj lod cda. Revenu bonvole!
      20. Cj lod cad. Ofte revenu, bonvole!
      21. His. Ĝis!
      22. Has. Bonan nokton!
      23. Dgojafbo. Estas bona vetero.
      24. Dgusafbo. Estas veteraĉo.
      25. Haihip. Mi estis neglektema.
      26. Rlaho. Multe tempe poste.
      27. Hon Y. Gratulon!
      28. Liaj. Dankon.
      29. Cjo, Koj, Oj. Jes.
      30. Cqu, Kuq, Uq. Ne.
      1 celz (mevz); 2 com (pbon); 3 heih (rnih)


      • Fuishiki OKAMOTO. The simplest Auxiliary Language BABM. Tokyo: Fuishiki OKAMOTO, 1962

        Japanese version at

      • personal pronoun

        VとYを単独で用いるときは、大文字を使う V and Y when used alone, to use uppercase

        中性 Neutral 男性 Men 女性 Woman
        単数 Singular 複数 Multiple 単数 Singular 複数 Multiple 単数 Singular 複数 Multiple
        一人称 The first person V va Va ov Ov ova Ova iv Iv iva Iva
        二人称 Second person Y ya Ya oy Oy oya Oya iy Iy iya Iya
        三人称 Third person x X xa Xa ox Ox oxa Oxa ix Ix ixa Ixa

      The Briefscript Project

      Briefscript now has the name name Piashi. In Piashi itself the name is actually written ~bax and pronounced /pi'a:çi/.

      Phonology & Orthography
      of the Piashi language

      Once you have learnt your alphabet, you can read!


      1. Stressed vowels:

      These are the only vowels that are written; there a five pure vowels and two diphthongs They are:

      • Five pure vowels:
        a -IPA [a] or IPA [ɑ]
        e -Mid front unrounded vowel - IPA [e] or, if preferred, IPA [ɛ].
        This is a pure vowel; there should be no trace of any final /j/ sound as in many varieties of English.
        i -IPA [i]
        o -Mid back rounded vowel - IPA [o] or, if preferred, IPA [ɔ].
        This is a pure vowel; there should be no trace of any final /w/ sound as in many varieties of English.
        u -IPA [u]
      • Two diphthongs:
        y -/ai/ (see below);
        w -/au/ (see below);
      • The preferred pronunciation of the diphthongs is [ai̯] and [au̯]; but they may begin at positions slightly higher in the mouth than [a], i.e. in the region of the [ɐ], [ə], or very low [ɔ] or [ɛ], thus:
        • 'y' may sound like the Welsh ei, Dutch ij or English boy;
        • 'w' may sound like the Welsh ow, Dutch ou or the [ɛu̯] sound of some southern English pronunciations of cow (also heard in the Cockney pronunciation of bell).
      The names of the letters themselves are those of the vowels they designate
      The stress given to these vowels should not, however, be the heavy stress of English or Russian, but rather a lighter stress as in Spanish. Indeed, the stress may well be a rise in pitch rather than increase in loudness, and the pure vowels will tend to be longer in duration than their unstressed counterparts (see below). The language is syllable-timed rather than stress-timed.

      2. Unstressed vowels:

      There are only three unstressed vowels: /i/, /a/, /u/; they should, of course, always be pronounced short and be neutral in pitch. Some speakers will 'naturally' give them the cardinal values [i]. [a] and [u] respectively, while others will use a more retracted pronunciation, namely [ɪ], [ɐ] or [ə] and [ʊ] respectively. Either variety of pronunciation is acceptable. They do not have symbols of their own; they are always accompanied by a preceding consonant, as shown in the next section.


      The remaining 19 letters represent consonants with its own specifc unstressed vowel, as shown in the table below.

      consonant +
       /i/  /a/  /u/ 
      bilabial plosiveb
      dental/ alveolar plosivec
      velar plosivek
      sibilant fricativex
      'vowel colored' fricativeh
      alveolar approximantj
      The pronunciations above are the 'basic' ones. It will be seen that in case of the dental/alveolar and velar plosives, palatalization has caused the -i grade to fall together. A similar things has happened with the fricatives.
      The plosives may receive apiration (as in English pea, pah and poo) when in the syllable before the stressed vowel, following the stressed vowel the sounds may be voiced. English speakers should not pronounce medial /t/ as a glottal stop.
      Of the palatals, instead of [ci] one may say [ʧi] or [ʨi]; similarly [çi] may be [ʃi] or [ɕi]; and [ɲi] may be [nji] if preferred.
      The sibilants may be voiced if desired.
      Of the other fricatives, [χa] may be [xa] or [ha], and [fu] may be [ɸu].
      The preferred alveolar approximant is the lateral [l], but the non-lateral [ɺ] or even [ɾ] may used.
      The names of these 19 letters are the same as the sounds the letters denote. However, as short vowels are never stressed (see below), if it is necessary to stress the name then the appropriate vowel - a, i, u - is added, thus e.g. bi, pa, vu, etc.


      All morphemes conform to the following five rules:

      1. Three letter morphemes with the written shape CVC, that is an unstressed-vowel syllable, followed by a stressed vowel or diphthong, followed by an unstressed-vowel syllable. They are always lexical morphemes.
      2. Two letter morphemes with the written shape CV, that is an unstressedl syllable followed by an stressed vowel or diphthong. They may occur only:
        • with functional value at the end of clauses, or
        • independently as exclamations (e.g. cw! "ciao!").
        In writing they must be followed by a punctuation mark, while in speech they will naturally be followed by a pause
      3. Two letter morphemes with the written shape VC, that is a stressed vowel or diphthong followed by an unstressed syllable. They may occur only:
        • with functional value at the beginning of a clause, preceded in writing by 'white space' & in speech by a pause, or
        • as a bound, formative element after a CVC morpheme (thus the combination CVCVC is analyzable only as CVC-VC).
        In speech they may optionallly have either a glottal stop or a semi-vowel onset (see below).
      4. One letter morphemes with the written shape C, that is an unaccented-vowel syllable. These morphemes are functional morphemes or 'particles'.
      5. One letter morphemes with the written shape V, that is a single stressed vowel or diphthong. They may occur only as interjections (a!, y!, o! etc).
      There are no exceptions to the five rules above So, for example. ekratflunipjtxw must be: ek-rat-f-lun-ip-j-t -xw /'ekalu'atafula'una'ipalitaçi'au/. No other analysis is possible.
      It was noted above that initial stressed vowels may optionally be preceded by a glottal stop onset or, the vowels e and i may be preceded by a /j/ onset, and similaly the vowels o and u may be preceded by a /w/ onset. None of these onsets are phonemic nor, indeed, required.
      The same onsets may also occur before stressed vowels in the CVC morphemes; alternatively, an unstressed /i/ may be followed by [j] before a stressed vowel and an unstressed /u/ may similarly be followed by [w] before a stressed vowel. None of these onsets or glides are, of course, compulsory. Indeed, in allegro speech the following may occur
      • C + /i/: the unstressed /i/ may optionaly be be elided entirely before stressed i or pronounced [j] before all other vowels.
      • C + /u/: the unstressed /u/ may optionaly be be elided entirely before stressed u or pronounced [w] before all other vowels.
      • C + /a/: the unstressed /a/ may optionaly be elided entirely before stressed a, w or y.

      Metrics & morae

      Piashi verse is measured in morae. As far as verse metrics are concerned, all sounds denoted by the nineteen consonant+unstressed-vowel letters are monomoraic ( ˘ ), and the stressed vowels & diphthongs are bimoraic ( ̄ ). There are no exceptions: the optional reduction of short vowels to semi-vowels in allegro speech is discounted and there are no elided syllables.

      At present there is no original Piashi verse. However, we can illustrate morae by reciting the alphabet. If we retain the traditional order, it will be found that it can be arranged metrically in five lines: the first two of 5 morae each, the next two of 7 morae and the last of 9, thus:
      abcd['apicitu]̄˘˘˘5 morae
      efgh['efuɲiχa]̄˘˘˘5 morae
      ijklmn['ilikalamuna]̄˘˘˘˘˘7 morae
      opqrst['opakulusata]̄˘˘˘˘˘7 morae
      uvwxyz['upu'auçi'aisu]̄˘ ̄˘ ̄˘9 morae


      This has not been developed yet. The common punctuation marks will be used in much the same way as in natural languages using the Roman alphabet. As the language developes, more precise rules will doubtless be developed also

      There are, however, one or two matters which can be stated. In the preface to Novial Lexike (1931), Otto Jespersen wrote: "In an international language we might, perhaps we should, write everything with small letters, as the rules for capitals are more or less arbitrary in all langauges - at present, however, I dare not propose that reform."
      Now, nearly three quarters of a century later, the reform is long overdue. In recent years it has become more and more customary to read emails written entirely in small letters.
      It has, in fact, long been the convention to print ancient Greek texts almost entirely in lower case letters, using upper case only to mark proper names. This is useful. However, we need not retain upper case letters for this purpose; what we need is some marker. Piashi will use the mark ~ (originally a superscript N) to denote proper names, e.g. ~bax (Piashi), ~han (Hannah, Anne), ~mihel (Michael); such names, of course, are pronounced according to the rules of Piashi.
      It has been my intention that Piashi use solely a single alphabet: the lower case letters; and, as far as possible, this should be so. Uppercase letters are to be used only in the following:
      • Internationally used abbreviations such as the symbols for elements in the periodic table and abbreviations used in SI system of measurements (in a briefscript it would be perverse to ignore internationally used abbreviation).
      • Where it is deemed preferable to retain a proper name in its original spelling, with no commitment as to the pronunciation; the use of the uppercase letter shows that the names are ill-formed according to Piashi, e.g. Beijing, Washington.

      We must consider whether personal pronouns should have separate singular and plural forms in Piashi: 1st person

      In "An International Language" (1928), Otto Jespersen observed that: ' ... "we" does not mean several "I's", but "I + someone else or several others" ... '.
      Other people have made similar observations. Indeed, very many languages do not use a plural formed from the singular, but use quite different morphemes for the singular and plural forms, e.g. English: I/me ~ we/us; French: je/me/moi ~ nous; Hungarian: én ~ mi; Swahili: mimi/ni- ~ sisi/tu-; Xhosa: -m-/ndi- ~ -thi-/si- etc.
      Some languages, indeed, have two different plurals, e.g. Malay-Indonesian: saya/aku (s.) ~ kima (I + others, excluding you) ~ kami (I + others, including you). It is often claimed that having distinct inclusive and exclusive 1st person plurals is an advantage. Maybe so - but the majority of the world's languages get along perfectly well without making the inclusion or exclusion of 'you' compulsory; therefore Piashi will not make it compulsory either. Piashi has no plural marker; it will use two separate words: one for 'I/me', and the other for 'we/us'.

      2nd person

      English has just one pronoun 'you' which does duty for both singular and plural; in Malay-indonesian the one word 'kamu' similarly does duty for both singular and plural. Many other languages also, while having a separate word for informal singular (e..g. French: tu/te/toi) or separate words for both informal singular and informal plural (e.g. German: du/dir/dich ~ ihr/euch) use the same form in formal language for both singular and plural (e.g. French: vous; German: Sie). It follows that in accordance with DP #12, Piashi will have only one pronoun for both 2nd person singular and plural.

      3rd person

      Although English has singular forms with a separate plural 'they/them', the latter pronouns are often used in modern colloquial English as a singular pronoun, irrespective of sex, e.g. "The user should consult chapter 3 of their manual where they will also find further details on troubleshooting." Also in Malay-Indonesian, which does not have compulsory marking of number (nor of gender or case), the pronoun ia/dia may do duty for either singular or plural (though plural can be specifically indicated if required). Indeed, as the 3rd person is used anaphorically, and as Piashi nouns do not have compulsory indication of number, then it would seem logical that 3rd person pronouns should not do so either.


      The Indo-European languuages have shown a gradual reduction in case form over the centuries. Neither English nor the Romance languages, except Romanian, retain case forms for nouns, while their pronouns hold on to a much reduced form of the earlier case system. Welsh has gone even further and dropped case distinctions in the pronouns as well. Other languags such as the Bantu languages and Chinese have no case forms. Thus in accordance with DP 12, Piashi will not inflect for case. Nouns and pronouns will show their relationship to the rest of the syntax through syntax, not morpholgy.
      In short, Piashi nouns and pronouns will have no case affixes.


      Natural languages may inflect verbs for tense, aspect, mood, voice and agreement with one or more of the verbal arguments. Let us consider these in turn.

      Tense & Aspect

      Although tense, in its proper meaning, and aspect are two different categories, in traditional grammar the term 'tense' is often used in a very loose way that covers both tense and aspect (ans sometimes other features such as mood). For example, many languages, such as Latin and the Romance languages, are said to possess an 'imperfect tense'; this form, in fact, combines both past tense and imperfective aspect.

      Tense, strictly speaking, is the grammatical category which correlates most directly with time. We are accustomed to thinking of past, present and future as such tenses are found in Latin. But English, in fact, has only two tenses: non-past ~ past (the so-called 'future', being expressed by modal verbs 'will' and 'shall'), for example: John lives in Canada ~ John lived in Canda; Miriam is going to London ~ Miriam was going to London; Ahmed has finished ~ Ahmed had finished; Karen says she will come today ~ Karen said she would come today. Chinese lacks even this minimum and has no tenses at all.
      It will be seen from the English examples that John lived, Miriam was going and Ahmed had finished are all past tenses, but they express different aspects. In some languages plays an important role, In Aarabic, for example, the verb has no tenses; apart from the imperative, the verb has two finite forms, traditionally known as the 'perfecr' and the 'imperfect'; some people, however, prefer to call them 'perfective' and 'imperfective' since they do not mean what 'perfect' & 'imperfect' means in Latin, but denote two different aspects. Modern Chinese, which has also has no tenses, does have four different aspect suffixes, -le (the most common), -guò, -zhe & -ne, which may be added to the verb, as well as allowing the verb to be use with no aspect suffix.
      However, like tense, aspect is not universally marked and, indeed, there are more possible aspects than just two or four, for example: perfective, imperfective, perfect, progressive, habitual, durative, punctual, iterative. No language requires that all these be compulsorily marked.
      Piashi will have no formal tense marking, nor any compulsory aspectual marking.


      This is a grammatical category that expresses the degree of reality of a proposition from the speaker's or writer's point of view. This category appears to be universal, but it mode of expression varies, The oldest Indo-European languages appear to have had four moods denoted by inflexion: indicative, subjunctive, optative and imperative. Over the centuries, these have become reduced. The optative was early fused with the subjunctive in most. the subjunctive has tended to fuse with the indicative and has virtually disaapeared from modern English, in which there is now no formal inflexional distinction either between indicative and imperative. Similar trends are found in many other Indo-European languages.

      In English, difference of mood is shown by using modal auxiliaries such as can ~ could, may ~ might, shall ~ should, will ~ would, must etc. Modern Chinese also uses modal auxiliaries such néng, huì, yào, yīnggāi. Piashi also will not use inflexions to show mood, but make use of modal auxiliaries.


      This is the grammatical category which expresses the relationship between the particpant roles of the NP (noun phrase) arguments of a verb and the actual grammatical relations born by thoses NPs. For example, in English the verb "give" has three NPs arguments - Agent, Patient, Recipient - which may variously grammaicalized thus:

      1. John gave Mary a lovely present - active voice:
        the Agent is the subject; the Recipient is the indirect object; the Patient is the direct object.
      2. Mary was given a lovely present by John - passive voice (with retained object):
        the Recipient is the subject; the Patient is the direct object; the Agent is an oblique NP, being the object of the preposition by.
      3. A lovely present was given to Mary by John - passive voice (without retained object):
        the Patient is the subject; the Recipient is an oblique NP, being the object of the preposition to; the Agent is an oblique NP, being the object of the preposition by.
      Version (3) is somewhat unusual in English, but is the more common form in most languages with active and passive voices; indeed, in most such languages version (2) is not permitted.
      It is sometimes claimed that the passive voice is useful if the Agent is not known or cannot be easily defined. But even languages with a passive voice often prefer an alternative active form with some undefined subject such as "they" or "people" and some use a reflexive form, cf:
      • French: on parle français (active voice, "one speaks French")
      • Italian: si parla italiano (reflexive: "Italian speaks itself")
      • English: English is spoken (passive voice)
      Nor are active and passive the only two voices; other categories of voice exist in some languages, such as the middle, reflexive, causative and adjutative inter alia.
      Tibetan and Chinese inter alia do perfectly without any voice whatsoever. In view of the wide differences in practice among the worlds languages, and that a widely spoken language like Chinese manage without any formal voice marking, the verb in Piashi will have no formal marking for voice.
      Speedwords did not suddenly appear; like 'briefscript' and, I guess, very many other projects, it developed over a period a time. It began its life, so to speak, as 'International Symbolic Script' (ISS) in 1935. Compare the texts below.
      George Bernard Shaw had given Dutton permission to quote from Saint Joan in 1935 or earlier. The various translations, by Dutton himself, allow us to see how Speedwords developed from the 1930s to its last revision in 1951. The first translation, as I said, was done in ISS.; the 2nd and 3rd were done as the new Speedwords (SW) was improved. The 1951 translation shows Dutton's final version of the language. The change from ISS to SW in 1936 was prompted by a desire to make the language pronunceable.

      The St Joan texts

      English :	"To shut me from the light of the sky  and the sight of
      ISS 1935: "moa j za t aic d t zma & t av d
      SW 1936 : "g apo j go l lum d l muno & l vi d
      SW 1946 : "apo j d l lum d l koso & l vu d
      SW 1951 : "apo j d l lum d l koso & l vu d

      English : the fields and flowers; to chain my feet so that I can
      ISS 1935: t zt.hzs & hos; oy.ym jr kps egr k j p
      SW 1936 : l Disveg & Flo; g libomet ji Ped s k j p
      SW 1946 : l agz & floz; gemet ji pedz so k j p
      SW 1951 : l agz & floz; gemet ji pedz so k j p

      English : never again ride with the soldiers nor climb the hills;
      ISS 1935: gzn gr xfu m t uqaqs on t phps;
      SW 1936 : ne re poru m l Milr ni tenas l Altv;
      SW 1946 : ozo re bers m l varz ni ase l holz,
      SW 1951 : azo re bers m l varz ni ase l holz;

      English : to make me breathe foul damp darkness, and keep from me
      ISS 1935: F j mi apa lwrk ala & jg za j
      SW 1936 : g ma j spi netoa aqi lumo & gar j go
      SW 1946 : fy j spi puroa aqit lumo & gar j d
      SW 1951 : fy j spi puroa aqit lumo & gar d j

      English : everything that brings me back to the love of God when
      ISS 1935: nco k mvfu j xr z t da d op gt
      SW 1936 : jet k zem j ba g l am d God te
      SW 1946 : jm qu zes j ur a l am d Dio qe
      SW 1951 : jm qu zes j ur a l am d Dio qe

      English : your wickedness and foolishness tempt me to hate Him:
      ISS 1935: vr ora & izv eev j daa i:
      SW 1936 : vi bono & menfo trya j amo h:
      SW 1946 : vi kupe & mena iflua j amo S:
      SW 1951 : vi kupe & mena ilua j amo S:

      English : all this is worse than the furnace in the Bible that
      ISS 1935: npa c e eua ar t zfc n t cbd k
      SW 1936 : al c e bem ki l branteg i l bul k
      SW 1946 : al c e sux z l olkokee i l Bucel qu
      SW 1951 : al c e sux z l olkokee i l Bucel qu

      English : was heated seven times."
      ISS 1935: ge zhy 7 gzs."
      SW 1936 : x e ka 7 ok."
      SW 1946 : y hotyd 7 oz."
      SW 1951 : yhefd 7 oz."



      I sent this sample to a fellow conlanger several years ago and got the reply: "Why do briefscripts have to have grammar so like English?" The answer is that they do not; one has only to look, for example, at Babm and Lin to see that.

      Perhaps the most telling clue that Speedwords is essentially a relexification of English was Dutton's habit in his correspondence lessons and throught "Dutton World Speedwords" of substituting the Speedwords word for the English in continuous English text after the Speedwords word has been given in a vocabulary list. For example:

      T r e noted d l examples quoted ov k continuative tenses i English e made by combining u pt d l verb 'to be' m u il form d l verb ending i - 'ing'. I Speedwords such expressions e adi rendered m l verb e - 'to be' & l ending i '-ing' e ignored, l sentences quoted ov being rendered z sek :-

      He is working - s e lab ; She was going home - sh y go a dol.

      [Dutton World Speedwords, page 48]

      It will be noted from the above excepted paragraph and from the St Joan text, that Speedwords uses the definite article just as in English. Indeed it does. Despite the fact that many languages have no definite or indefinite articles and most of those thsat do have one or both article do not use them exactly as in English, there is no explanation given to the use of the definite and indefinte articles in Speedwords.
      It will also be seen from paragraph quoted from page 48 of "Dutton World Speedwords" that Speedwords has progressive aspect tenses ('continuative' tenses) just as English does. It is true that on the previous page Dutton did explain the advantage of such tenses. But the explanation does not go on to explain the 'perfect of persistent situations' forms such as sh h e dor "She has been sleeping" and G hy e lud "They had been playing" which are rather different. One is left with the feeling that Duttn is basically just following English.
      There are, it is true, one or two differences from English usage, but these a very few and made in order to aid speed, e.g. using the unmarked form of the verb after 'to be' to form progressive aspect tenses and, as we see in the St Joan text, omitting the infinitive maker 'to'.
      If a designer of a universal IAL creates a language which largely reflects the word order and, indeed, syntax of her/his native language, then s/he needs, in my opinion, to present very cogent reasons for do
      ing so.

      So what do itollis and evue actually mean?

      [itollis] [evue]

      "It has to be recognised that many Chinese compounded ideographs are conventional and far from obvious to the Western mind, but the principle is sound and has been applied logically and systematically to Speedwords in such a way that the resulting compounds are self-evident at a glance."

      [Dutton Speedwords Dictionary, 1951, page 4]


      The -ll- in the middle of the word means we must have a morpheme boundary, so we can initially divide the word thus itol-lis.

      If we know Speedword's 491 root words and its battery of 20 affixes, we will realize that we could have
      1. i-to-l   =   in-amount-SPECIAL
      2. it-ol   =   implement-receptacle
      As Dutton's use of the SPECIAL affix is unpredictable, we check the 1951 Dictionary and find he did not list tol as a derivative of to, so analysis (b) is probably more likely, even though we may be a bit puzzled what a "receptacle implement" might be (Remember: Speedwords compounds are head-modifier sequence).
      With lis we seem to be on firmer ground. It can only be: li-s   =   liquid-COMPLEMENT. Indeed, the Dictionary does list: lis 'solid'.
      So itollis seems to be "solid receptacle implement". Is this some sort of implement for receiving solids? It is not immediately obvious what this might be.
      But no, we were misaken in thinking the last element was lis. A bit of detective work in the Dictionary reveals that the final -s complements the compound olli, "liquid receptacle", i.e. 'a receptacle for holding liquid', namely a "bottle". A bottle's complement is, according to Dutton, a "cork"!
      1. it-ol-li-s
        implement-receptacle-liquid-COMPLEMENT →
      2. it-olli-s
        implement-bottle-COMPLEMENT →
      3. it-ollis
        implement-cork →
      4. itollis
        corkscrew (and listed as such in the 1951 Dictionary)
      Easy, isn't it?


      Armed with our knowledge of Speedword's 491 root words and its battery of affixes, we are likely to segregate the morphemes thus:

      • e-vu-e
      • being-see-AUGMENT  =  'a state of augmented vision'
      So evue is 'a state of enlightenment'? Well, no. Our initial analysis of the morphemes was wrong. The word is composed of four morphemes! But we're not entirely in the dark: we did get the the first and last morphemes correct. But we have -v-u- in the middle and not just -vu-. So let's try again. It seems to be
      • e-v-u-e
      If we have remembered that ev 'be-ASSOCIATION' = "become", we will perhaps think it means some sort of augmented favorable coming into existence - may be somethig like 'divine revelation' or 'epiphany'.
      No, we are still incorrect. The -u- is not the FAVORABLE suffix; it is the root morpheme u = "one". If we are still puzzled as to what one-AUGMENT might signify, the Dictionary puts us right: the AUGMENT suffix applies to the compound of all three preceding morphemes, not to just the last one or last two!
      Now armed with this knowledge, does not 'be-ASSOCIATION-one-AUGMENT' self-evidently mean "corporation"? It does according to the 1951 Dictionary, thus:
      1. e-v-u-e
        be-ASSOCIATION-one-AUGMENT →
      2. ev-u-e
        become-one-AUGMENT →
      3. evu-e
        union-AUGMENT →
      4. evue
      Progress on Piashi is stalled at the moment; I am trying to devise its lexicon. Also, it must be admitted, the world has changed a good deal from that of the 1930s and 1940s when Dutton was developing his language. Now in the early years of the 21st century, English, for better or worse, is the de facto international auxiliary language, and there already exist briefscipts for English. Ever since Emma Dearborn ceated Speedwriting about 1924, others have come up with their own systems; also the text-messaging community are developing their own 'abbreviated longhand'. However, having spent so long with the project, it would perhaps be a pity not to see it through.
      Work on the unnamed loglang and on EAK is still very much in the initial stages.

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