Basic English: Wikis

  

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basic English, also known as Simple English, is an English-based controlled language created by Charles Kay Ogden (in essence a simplified subset of English) as an international auxiliary language, and as an aid for teaching English as a Second Language. It was presented in Ogden's book Basic English: A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar (1930). Capitalised, BASIC is sometimes taken as an acronym that stands for British American Scientific International Commercial.[1]

Ogden's Basic, and the concept of a simplified English, gained its greatest publicity just after the Allied victory in the Second World War as a tool for world peace. Although Basic English was not built into a program, similar simplifications have been devised for various international uses. Ogden's associate I. A. Richards promoted its use in schools in China. More recently, it has influenced the creation of Voice of America's Special English for news broadcasting, and Simplified English, another English-based controlled language designed to write technical manuals.

What survives today of Ogden's Basic English is the basic 850-word list used as the beginner's vocabulary of the English language taught worldwide, especially Asia.[2]

Contents

Design principles

Ogden tried to simplify English while keeping it normal for native speakers, by specifying grammar restrictions and a controlled small vocabulary which makes an extensive use of paraphrasis. Most notably, Ogden allowed only 18 verbs, which he called "operators". His General Introduction says "There are no 'verbs' in Basic English", with the underlying assumption that, as noun use in English is very straightforward but verb use/conjugation is not, the elimination of verbs would be a welcome simplification.[3]

Word lists

Ogden's word lists include only word roots, which in practice are extended with the defined set of affixes and the full set of forms allowed for any available word (noun, pronoun, or the limited set of verbs).[4]

The 850 core words of Basic English are found in Wiktionary's Appendix:Basic English word list. This core is theoretically enough for everyday life. However, Ogden prescribed that any student should learn an additional 150 word list for everyday work in some particular field, by adding a word list of 100 words particularly useful in a general field (e.g., science, verse, business, etc.), along with a 50-word list from a more specialised subset of that general field, to make a basic 1000 word vocabulary for everyday work and life.

Moreover, Ogden assumed that any student already should be familiar with (and thus may only review) a core subset of around 350 "international" words. Therefore, a first level student should graduate with a core vocabulary of around 1350 words. A realistic general core vocabulary could contain 1500 words (the core 850 words, plus 350 international words, and 300 words for the general fields of trade, economics, and science). A sample 1500 word vocabulary is included in the Simple English Wikipedia.

Ogden also provided lists to extend the general 1500 vocabulary with additional word lists to make a 2000 word list, enough for a "standard" English level. This 2000 word vocabulary represents "what any learner should know". At this level students could start to move on their own.

Rules

Also see Basic English ordered wordlist from Simple English Wikipedia.

The word use of Basic English is similar to full English, but the rules are much simpler, and there are fewer exceptions. Not all meanings of each word are allowed.

Ogden's rules of grammar for Basic English help people use the 850 words to talk about things and events in a normal way.[5]

  1. Make plurals with an "S" on the end of the word. If there are special ways to make a plural word, such as "ES" and "IES", use them.
  2. There are two word endings to change each of the 150 adjectives: -"ER" and -"EST"
  3. There are two word endings to change the verb word endings, -"ING" and -"ED".
  4. Make qualifiers from adverbs by adding -"LY".
  5. Talk about amounts with "MORE" and "MOST." Use and know -"ER" and -"EST."
  6. Make opposite adjectives with "UN"-
  7. Make questions with the opposite word order, and with "DO".
  8. Operators and pronouns conjugate as in normal English.
  9. Make combined words (compounds) from two nouns (for example "milkman") or a noun and a directive (sundown).
  10. Measures, numbers, money, days, months, years, clock time, and international words are in English forms. E.g. Date/Time: 20 May 1972 at 21:00
  11. Use the words of an industry or science. For example, in this grammar, some special words are for teaching languages, and not part of Basic English: plural, conjugate, noun, adjective, adverb, qualifier, operator, pronoun, and directive.

Criticism

Like all international auxiliary languages (or IALs), Basic may be criticised as unavoidably based on personal preferences, and thus, paradoxically, as inherently divisive.[6] Moreover, like all natural language based IALs, Basic is subject to criticism as unfairly biased towards the native speaker community.[7]

As a teaching aid for English as a Second Language, Basic has been criticised for the choice of the core vocabulary and for its grammatical constraints.[8]

Literary references

In the future history book The Shape of Things to Come, published in 1933, H.G. Wells depicted Basic English as the lingua franca of a new elite which after a prolonged struggle succeeds in uniting the world and establishing a totalitarian world government. In the future world of Wells' vision, virtually all members of humanity know this language.

From 1942 until 1944 George Orwell was a proponent of Basic English, but in 1945 he became critical of universal language. The language later inspired his use of Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four.[9]

In his story "Gulf", noted science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein used a constructed language, in which every Basic English word is replaced with a single phoneme, as an appropriate means of communication for a race of genius supermen.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Brutt-Griffler, Evans Davies, English and Ethnicity, Palgrave Macmillan,2006
  2. ^ Edmond H Weiss The Elements of International English Style, pp. 17-18, M. E. Sharpe, 2005 ISBN 978-0765615725
  3. ^ A good summary in Bill Templer: Towards a People's English: Back to BASIC in EIL Humanising Language Teaching.
  4. ^ See the list of words which are assumed and not counted for details.
  5. ^ "Rules of Grammer". January 1, 1996. http://ogden.basic-english.org/rules.html. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  6. ^ Rick Harrison, Farewell to Auxiliary Languages
  7. ^ For instance, a sample quotation from the auxlang mailing list archives and another from noted linguist Robert A. Hall, Jr..
  8. ^ For instance, by proponents of Essential World English. See a summary of EWE for instance and, again, the linguist Robert A. Hall, Jr..
  9. ^ Illich, Ivan; Barry Sanders (1988) (in English language). ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind. San Francisco: North Point Press. pp. 109. ISBN 0-86547-291-2. "The satirical force with which Orwell used Newspeak to serve as his portrait of one of those totalitarian ideas that he saw taking root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere can be understood only if we remember that he speaks with shame about a belief that he formerly held... From 1942 to 1944, working as a colleague of William Empson's, he produced a series of broadcasts to India written in Basic English, trying to use its programmed simplicity, as a Tribune article put it, "as a sort of corrective to the oratory of statesmen and publicists." Only during the last year of the war did he write "Politics and the English Language," insisting that the defense of English language has nothing to do with the setting up of a Standard English."" 
  10. ^ Heinlein, Robert A., "Gulf", in Assignment in Eternity, published by Signet Science Fiction (New American Library), 1953. Page 52-53: "It was possible to establish a one-to-one relationship with Basic English so that one phonetic symbol was equivalent to an entire word".

External links

Simple English edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Basic English: A Protest, Joseph Albert Lauwerys, F. J. Daniels, Robert A. Hall Jr., London: Basic English Foundation, 1966. An answer to Robert A. Hall, Jr.'s criticism.

Simple English

Basic English (British American Scientific International Commercial) is a constructed (made-up) language to explain complex thoughts with 850 basic English words chosen by Charles Kay Ogden.

Contents

Rules of word use

The word use of Basic English is much simpler and more regular than that of full English. Not all meanings of each word are allowed.

Ogden's rules of grammar for Basic English help people use the 850 words to talk about things and events normally.[1]

  1. -s / -es / -ies change singular nouns into plurals nouns.
  2. -ing / -ed change verbs into adjectives.
  3. -ing / -er change verbs into nouns.
  4. -ly change adjectives into adverbs.
  5. -er / -est or more / most describe amounts.
  6. un- change the meanings of adjectives into their opposites.
  7. The opposite word order with do make questions.
  8. Operators and pronouns conjugate as in normal English.
  9. Make combined words (compounds) from two nouns (for example "milkman") or a noun and a directive (sundown).
  10. Measures, numbers, money, days, months, years, clock time, and international words are in English forms. E.g. Date/Time: 20 May 1972 at 21:00
  11. Use the words of an industry or science. For example, in this grammar, some special words are for teaching languages, and not part of Basic English: plural, conjugate, noun, adjective, adverb, qualifier, operator, pronoun, and directive.

Related pages

  • "BE 850" - Basic English 850 word list
    • Basic English alphabetical wordlist
    • Basic English ordered wordlist
      • Basic English picture wordlist - 200 Picturable words
  • Basic English international wordlist
  • Basic English compound wordlist
  • "BE 1500" - Basic English combined wordlist

References

General

Ogden, C. K. (1940). General Basic English Dictionary. London: Evans Brothers Limited. ISBN 0874713625.

Inline Citations

Other websites








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