Dutton Speedwords: Background and purpose

Reginald J.G. Dutton (8 Nov. 1886 - 22 June 1970) was an enthusiastic
Esperantist in the pre-WWII era, spending a lot of his time and money on
promoting it.  He came to the conclusion that the majority of the
British public were indifferent to it and looked to see if some other
idea could be found to make an IAL attractive.  He came up with the idea
of making all root words just one, two or three letters long, thus
enabling the language to be written (hopefully) at shorthand speed.

His language, which he variously called "Dutton World Speedwords", "Dutton
Double-Speed Words", "Dutton World Double-Speed Words", was published in
various books during the war years (the first was in 1943) and the post-war
years.  In 1951 a revision was made of the language which seems to have
become the final form.

All the books from 1943 to the 1951 were published by Dutton Publications,
London (UK).  Dutton lived in Skegness, in Lincolnshire, England.

In 1951 it appeared as "Teach Yourself Dutton Speedwords" in the Teach
Yourself series of the English University Press. Subsequent editions were
published in 1971 and 1973.

In "Dutton World Speedwords" (London, 1943), Dutton writes the following
"Open Letter".

Open Letter to the Young People of all Nations from the Inventor of World Double-Speed Words DEAR JOHN AND JANE, If you agree that for the purposes of international communications and translations of the cultural and technical literature of all nations `book' can be expressed by _bu_, `writing' by _ri_, `liberation' by _lib_, `efficiency' by _ef_, `gratitude' by _gra_, and so on, then you can help to ensure that young people of every nationality will in future be able to :- (a) Sweep away for ever all language barriers to full international understanding, social intercourse, and cultural development. (b) Read, write, and typewrite any given matter in less than half the time required to do so in any national language. (c) Purchase the translated literary and technical works of all nationals at one-third of the publication in any national language. (d) Double the possible contents of all Air letters. (e) Double the speed of transmission, and thereby halve the cost, of all plain language cables and telegrams. At the time of writing this letter confidence is being expressed that the British Commonwealth of Nations, the U.S.A., the Soviet Union, and China, can by acting in concert save the world from a repetition of present-day catastrophic events. Yet it is doubtful whether there is one member of any of these Governments who can express himself fluently in all three languages - English, Russian, Chinese. (Whereas in both Great Britain and the Soviet Union the written and spoken languages are related, the spoken tongue and non-phonetic national script of China are entirely different creations.) Linguists will agree that it is probably true to say that there is no one on this globe who could learn to write and speak these fundamentally diverse languages fluently in a period of less than ten years. This statement takes no account of French, Dutch, Polish, Czech, Norwegian, Greek, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and all others of the 47 languages in which the B.B.C. broadcasts daily. But you, the Johns, Janes, Ivans, Natashas, Pierres, and Heddas of all nations could banish Babel _in one month_ by agreeing, for international purposes, to use one short World Double-Speed Word for _book_, one for _house_, one for _security_, for _friendship_, _co-operation_, _research_, _knowledge_, _understanding_, and so on for all other concepts of the human mind. Mastery of Speedwords, the culmination of 21 years' intensive philological research, is possible in one month because there are only 493 short key-words to learn. All other objects and ideas are expressed by simple rules for forming compounds of two or more of the 493 short Speedword radicals. Incidentally, because of the immense saving of time effected by this invention, and by doing away with foreign translations, Speedwords may reasonably be expected to become not only the international, but also the national correspondence medium of commerce in all countries. The structure of Speedwords, which can be both spoken and written, is detailed on pages 8-12. Sir Richard Gregory, F.R.S., a former President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, has recently appealed to British and Allied Universities to agree upon one auxiliary language for the purpose of international communication. The suggestion has also been put forward that Universities in every country should arrange for students to spend a year in other countries before entering on their University course of studies. These are great conceptions which we on our part can materially help to bring to fruition. Air transport after the war will be revolutionised, and in all probability we shall all be able to travel in comfort in a matter of hours between New York, London, Moscow, Chungking, and other picturesque cities of the Eastern and Western hemispheres. But it must be remembered that the British Association appealed after the last Great War for the universal adoption of an International Auxiliary language. Yet neither the national Governments nor the League of Nations, though probably sympathetic, made a practical response to that appeal. In the introduction to his great Thesaurus Dr. P.M. Roget wrote :- "However abortive may have been the former endeavours to persuade the nations to accept an international auxiliary language, its accomplishment is surely not beset with greater difficulties than have impeded the progress of many other beneficial objects, which in former times appeared no less visionary, and which yet were successfully achieved in later ages by the continued exertion of the human intellect. Is there at the present day, then, any ground for despair, that at some future stage of the higher civilisation to which we trust the world is gradually tending, some new and bolder effort of genius towards the great problem may be crowned with success, and compass an object of such vast and paramount utility? Nothing, indeed, would conduce more directly to bring about a golden age of union and harmony among the several nations and races of mankind than the removal of that barrier to the interchange of thought and mutual good understanding between man and man which is now interposed by the diversity of their respective languages." If you progressive-minded young enthusiasts will agree to work hand in hand in the cause of international goodwill I will help to the best of my ability through the medium of World Double-Speed Words. We can then ensure that these appeals shall not this time go unheeded. The next essential step is to produce editions of the Speedwords Text-Book in all the languages of all the United Nations. (Although the instructions will appear in the native language of the various countries, all students will, of course, finally use exactly the same Speedword forms.) When text-book translations have been completed I hope it will be possible to establish World Youth Social and Cultural Centres and Hostels in all civilised countries in order to encourage Youth travel on the lines recommended by the Universities. Speedwords exponents in each country will be encouraged to set up these centres for the reception of young visitors from outside its own borders. Grants towards the cost of construction and maintenance of such centres and hostels will be made from the proceeds derived from the sale of Speedwords publications, as also from bringing into existence of the first truly international Library - embracing every conceivable subject of research - that the world has ever known. An editorial in `The Spectator' of Feb. 12, 1943, declared "Co-operation between British and Russian armies, navies, and air forces, and formal agreements between Governments, must be supplanted by an unclouded understanding between the peoples." Already a first step has been taken to establish a Speedwords correspondence link between English-speaking and Russian University and Secondary School students, through the co-operation of the Chief Correspondent in London of the Soviet Telegraph Agency (Tass), who has been good enough to forward copies of this text-book to the Soviet Academy of Science. I would therefore be glad if Speedwords writers who would like to enter into correspondence after the war with Russian students, as well as with other nationals, would send me their names and addresses, adding a special note of the subjects they would like to discuss, and the countries in which they are especially interested. When you have worked through this text-book and its Supplement, checking carefully in the hours the amount of time actually taken, you will be able to decide for yourselves whether or no there is any justification for my belief that, given the requisite national editions of these Speedwords instruction books, young people of all nations could begin corresponding with each other, aided by the Speedwords Dictionary, within one month of working the first lesson. I would very much appreciate your comments after you have completed the study of this text-book and shall hope to have your encouragement and enthusiastic co-operation in demonstrating that Speedwords provides a simple and indeed revolutionary solution of the world's linguistic difficulties. Yours for "unclouded understanding and international enlightenment," Reginald J.G. Dutton 40, Firbeck Avenue, Skegness, Lincs., England. May, 1943

My thanks to Raymond Brown for compiling this information and entering the text of Dutton's Letter.

Richard Kennaway, jrk@cmp.uea.ac.uk