BASIC ENGLISH Compiled by Julia E. Johnson
Discussion Favorable to Basic English
ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE 5
World conditions after the war will be fundamentally different from those which existed prior to the war. The outlook of all nations will be reoriented and the intense national spirit permeating states today will be reduced when hostilities have ceased. They will have to relinquish some part of their national sovereignty as a contribution to world peace. But this will be only one of the changes that will come about. Many European countries will have deep wounds to heal and many scars will be left as the result of German occupations. They will be sadly impoverished and will need much outside help to restore their internal economic health.
They will have to turn to the Anglo-Saxon race for this help, and an opportunity~ that has never before arisen in the history of mankind will be presented to the world to unify its aims and to live in harmony.
A dozen or more European nations at the present moment are looking to the Anglo-Saxon race for deliverance from their thraldom by the German nation. Most of them have their governments working in this country and are organizing their overseas resources from London. The official liaison language between these countries must necessarily be English. In consequence English will probably become the diplomatic language of the world after the war, and the accepted vehicle of all interrelations between nations. It will thus become more and more a necessary subject in the curricula of continental schools.
The distribution of English-speaking people throughout the world today warrants some examination. English is the official and administrative language of the British Empire with its population of 400 million, and is the natural language of practically
all the white people in that empire. It is the natural or adopted language of the 130 million people in the United States of America. These are solid blocks where the influence of the Anglo-Saxon race is paramount. The geographical distribution of the peoples in these blocks is also of the utmost importance. They girdle the earth latitudinally and stretch from the Arctic to the Antarctic. No other language is so widely spoken and known. No other race is so widely scattered over the face of the globe as the Anglo-Saxon race.
The unity of ideals of English-speaking people in all parts of the world has been pronounced for a very long time, and the present war has brought the English-speaking people much more closely together. The common peril has welded them into a single people with specific aims and a definite mission. They have united in an ideological conflict of world-wide application. The result may well be a complete fusion of the Anglo-Saxon race.
Between them they control the major portion of the raw resources of the world, and have for many years been the chief distributors and carriers of these products. Their economic strength has withstood the direct assault of two world wars, and they will emerge from the present conflict, relative to other races, much stronger than they have ever been before. They will be in a position economically to dominate the world because of their control of raw products, and their power to produce manufactured goods on a hitherto unimagined scale. While many other countries, including Germany, will be prostrate and exhausted by the effects of defeat, the Anglo-Saxon race will be able to swing over from war industries to peacetime industrial production and to supply the accumulated needs of the world.
Even as the races of Europe have been dependent upon the Anglo-Saxon race to extricate them from the bondage of Nazidam, so will they be more dependent, when their freedom has been regained, upon the help which will be forthcoming from the race which delivered them. To them they will turn in the first place for food to save them from starvation, and later they will have to turn to the Anglo-Saxon race for the other necessities of life. The ravages made upon their countries by the invader will
leave them denuded of their natural resources, and they will be compelled to approach the race which controls the sources of the raw products, the manufacture of finished articles, and the means of transporting them throughout the world. No other combatant force will be in a position to do this after the war. Russia has many vital raw products, but she cannot manufacture and also deliver the finished goods. Japan has not access to the sources of many of the necessities of modern life. Germany will be helpless and Italy can for the time be ignored.
English is spoken in all parts of the world and combines the virility of youth with the strength of age. The former brings it new life by constant additions, which survive or disappear according to their utility and fitness. The latter provides an inexhaustible reservoir of riches to draw upon. It is admitted that [English] idiom is difficult, yet its syntax is comparatively simple [because of] the lack of inflections.. It has a literature second to no other spoken or dead language, and has in Shakespeare a writer who has never been rivalled in any language . . . .
The language of the United States of America is English.
Bismark was known to have said a hundred years ago that for English to be the language of the North American continent was the most disconcerting fact of modern times. Yet English was established as the language of the States in spite of the many difficulties arising from the absorption of immigrants speaking the languages of their original countries. It is a fact that millions have been compelled to learn English in addition to their own mother tongue in order to equip themselves for the struggle to live and become worthy citizens of their adopted country. The insistence of one language only for the United States has done much to bring them into the front rank of world nations. It has affected their internal development to an enormous degree, and has unified their aims in both home and foreign policies. It shows on a small scale that the evolution of a world language is a distinct possibility . . . .
The world has been suffering for thousands of years from the curse of the Tower of Babel. The very incidence of the curse provoked quarrels and they have continued almost without
cessation since, until in the last thirty years .the world has been convulsed twice. There have been other contributory factors to wars. Lust for power and greed for riches have exercised their foul influences throughout the ages. But would these evils have developed to any serious extent if the human race had not been segregated into units, alienated in the first place by different tongues which prevented free intercourse, which caused a growth of intense national feelings? This bar to human intercourse has provoked the development in the mass form of ordinary individual weaknesses to which all men are prone, and mankind is checked in its progress to a larger life.
A long-term policy, spread over many generations, should be inaugurated to popularize the English language throughout the world. . . . The first steps will be perhaps the most difficult and little progress will be made in a lifetime. Later sympathetic cooperation will be forthcoming from thinking people in other countries and valuable help will arise spontaneously as the effect of the policy upon mankind becomes apparent. No attempt to obliterate other languages is contemplated-this would be to attempt the impossible. It is conceivable, however, that, over a period of time, English would become the general second language of all non-native English-speaking countries, and that all would have a reasonable facility of expression in English.
Reasons have been given for the choice of English as the coming world language. There must, however, exist a deep conviction that such a project will contribute to world happiness before it is launched. The difficulties in carrying out such a project must not be a deterrent; nor should the fact that it will be a matter of generations before the object is attained prevent the adoption of the policy. Although the spreading of English throughout the world may make a very slow start, its later progress may be accelerated at a rate beyond our wildest dreams. Is it really a fact that the existence of so many media for verbal expression indicate a backward condition in the progress of humanity? Is the world forever to remain supine to the conflict of tongues? Should not the peoples of the world have access to each other by some general language? Will not such a thing tend towards a unification of views and aims among all peoples,
with the consequent lessening of the liability of wars? A deep study of these and other related questions must be made before decisions can be reached. If, then, the sum of the answers to these questions shows that the project of making the English language a world language is warranted, it should become the mission of the Anglo-Saxon race to work courageously and unsparingly to that end.
5. By J. H. Bennetton, Secretary. National Council on Commercial Education.
England. Journal of Education (London). 74:14, 16. January 1942.
EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTY WORDS TO UNITE A WORLD 6
The war may have sidetracked the Basic crusade in wide regions of the world. On the other hand, it has only sharpened the longing of the people of those regions for a second language. Millions of them want to be a part of the good new world a-coming.
In most European countries Basic made fine headway before Munich. Today there are said to be secret classes in Basic in every land beneath the Nazi heel. The BBC sends them lessons in Basic across Hitler's tank traps and barbed wire. The Governments-in-exile of Belgium, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway and Yugoslavia have joined in recommending the establishment of a universal language, and they lean toward English. There is promise that English will be a required study in the schools of those countries when peace returns.
Russia is deep in English lessons; three fourths of all Russian schools, it is said, will demand it. Marshal Stalin himself studies Basic. Mine. Ivy Litvinoff, now in America, has taught it there.
Come to think, the fact that both Russia and China are studying English is as good a sign as any in sight that the "one world" idea has a chance. Significant, too, it may be that Italian officers in Rome in the angry days after Mussolini's fall wouldn't speak to German officers in the hated German language, and vice versa. When they had to talk, both sides used English.
Here in America, Basic has won support and found usefulness. At Harvard it helps to teach teachers to teach English. At Ann Arbor it helps students who lack the gift of putting
thoughts on paper. Through it they learn what language is and what makes it work; practice in writing clearly in 850 words prepares them for writing clearly in any number of words at all.
At other colleges Basic is easing Latin-American exchange students into the mysteries of English. A wave of English study is sweeping South America, furthered by radio broadcasts in Basic from here. A New York bookstore specializing in Basic literature has its biggest sales south of the Rio Grande.
In night schools Basic is breaking down the language wall that separates adult foreign-born citizens from their fellow Americans. In an Arizona training camp young Chinese aviators take lessons in Basic to make them allies of ours in language as well as in sentiment.
In Hollywood a notable experiment, backed by the Rockefeller Foundation, is going on. The Walt Disney studio has made a start toward enlisting the sound motion picture in the job of teaching Basic and, eventually, any other language. Graphic films, it is found, can command a degree of attention and concentration beyond the power of the best of word-of-mouth teachers.
There are objections to Basic. One is that it would impose English on non-English peoples in a time when the world's peoples are fighting against alien impositions of any sort. This objection overlooks the fact that these peoples recognize their need for English and ask for it.
Oddly, the chief opposition to Basic comes from Englishmen. They don't want the professors to monkey with their language. The Basic people come back at them by reducing famous books to Basic; such books as the New Testament, Plato's "Republic," Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" and Shaw's "Arms and the Man," along with "Gulliver" and "Pinocchio" and "Black Beauty." And these books in Basic make grand reading for anybody.
6. From article by L. H. Robbins. New York Times Magazine. p. 12, 57. September 19. 1945.
BASIC ENGLISH 7
When Henry James remarked that the American people were romping amid the ruins of the English language he left it an
open question whether they were there to destroy or to fulfill. From the psychological point of view, at any rate, a linguistic romp is a highly creditable performance. The antic haverings of a pedantic pedestrianism in quest of Pure English are rapidly producing a new form of Addison's disease--for Addison was the first to complain that "the late war has adulterated our tongue with strange words."
But if we are agreed that they are ruins, the case for a newer edifice is all the stronger; and those of us who are both conservatives, and sentimentalists will prefer to build on the old site. We may even be able to preserve some of the old bricks, so that our children's children may say, "This was known to Webster," or "Here Mencken fought and won." And here lies the strength of Basic English-a scientific attempt to select the most fundamental words in the current language to form a practical auxiliary language for all nations.
From one standpoint, that of science and of writers like James Joyce, the 500,000 words of the lexicologist are too few; from another, that of the occidentalizing oriental, the 10,000 words of the man in the street are too many. The former needs more and merrier, the latter, simpler and slicker. If so, English will become not only the international auxiliary language, but the universal language of the future.
To have succeeded in getting on the back of a sheet of notepaper, in legible form, all the words actually needed to communicate idiomatically most of the requirements of international correspondence, science, and commerce, is the claim of those who have spent a decade in compiling the vocabulary here printed.
To read an ordinary issue of The Saturday Review with profit, a vocabulary of over 50,000 words is implied. Actually, many readers get along with 25,000 or less. A conscientious foreigner is apt to have to memorize about 15,000 by way of insurance, before he can understand a particular 1,000 even if he will never have occasion to speak or write English himself. Let us suppose that this requires two years' hard labor-the problem of an auxiliary language is to reduce his labor to two months.
The artificial languages which contrive, with varying degrees of plausibility, to make this claim, cannot as yet attain this minimum, are all based on a limited group of languages, quite
unfamiliar in type to millions of orientals who must chiefly be kept in view, and have not yet studied the problem of simplification systematically.
Moreover, when learned, an artificial language still awaits a millennium in which conversion shall cease to be confined to a few thousand enthusiasts; and here the importance of accurate statistics is once more apparent. It is often stated that English is the language of 250,000,000 people, and this figure is then compared with the figures for French, German, Spanish, etc., with the implication that it would be invidious to be influenced by so small a lead, when the tide of national prejudice is running so high. Actually, however, English is the expanding administrative (or auxiliary) language of over 500,000,000 people, and financial reasons alone should convince even those who resent the fact that it is bound to expand even more rapidly in the near future.
It is impossible to do more than indicate the five main principles for which novelty may be claimed, in the sense that their application has made so radical a reduction feasible. They are the elimination of verbs, the analysis of the thirteen operators and twenty-one directives which replace them in universal grammar, the use of panoptic conjugations in systematic definitions, the projection and interpretation of emotive adjectives, and the development of Bentham's theory of Fictions in the treatment of metaphor.
7. By Charles Kay Ogden. Orthological Institute, Cambridge, England; Founder of Basic English. Saturday Review at Literature. 26:12. September 11, 1943.
COMPOSITION BY CRITICAL ANALYSIS 8
Evidence of widespread disillusionment with Freshman composition is piling up. Yet few English teachers who have struggled with entering Freshmen would agree with Professor Campbell that the answer is to throw the whole thing Out the window and bring the survey course in the door. Freshmen do need some sort of language training, and they need it badly. The method described below is an attempt to face this problem squarely and to find a workable solution.
The experiment was carried on during the year 1938-39 at the Connecticut State College (now the University of Connecticut). This is a state-supported institution offering curriculums in agriculture, arts and sciences, engineering, and home economics, the students of the several curriculums being distributed indifferently into Freshman English sections. Sectioning on the basis of ability in English is practiced, however, and an additional semester's work is required of those students making low-quarter scores on an English placement test. The work here described was carried on with three sections, two slow and one normal, with certain differences in emphasis and more particularly in speed. In general it took the two slow sections approximately two semesters to cover the work done by the normal students in one semester.
The essential device of the method was Basic English, a selection of eight hundred and fifty English words so chosen that with them one may say, so far as plain sense is concerned, anything necessary to be said. There are also simple rules for putting these words together in sentences. It was made clear to the students from the start that Basic English was not to be learned as an end in itself but as a means to a better understanding of what language is and how it works.
The students equipped themselves with a text prepared by the writer, with the Basic Dictionary, a selection of seventy-five hundred common English words and suggestions for putting them in Basic, and with Basic Words, a book making clear the range of senses of the eight hundred and fifty words of the Basic list.
It is not possible in limited space to give a detailed account of how the work went forward, but in general the procedure was as follows. In the first three or four weeks the students were made acquainted with Basic English and prepared various written exercises designed to bring about a reasonably quick understanding of the working of the Basic system. Attention was given to words and their functions, to changes in the forms of words, to the formation of compound words, to specialized and metaphorical uses of words.
The next step was a consideration of sentences and of variety in sentence form. So long as one is writing in Basic, it is possible to determine by a mechanical test whether one has written a complete sentence, and this fact was made clear to the students. Thereafter general consideration was given to the nature of the sentence, this material being applicable both to Basic and to complete English. The study of sentence variety was carried forward with the idea of making one point clear :
that no sentence may be classed as good or bad as to form without a knowledge of the purpose its writer had in mind. Though most text writers pay lip service to this idea, their discussions of the subject commonly leave it almost completely out of account. It may be necessary to add that discussions of these matters went forward without using conventional grammatical terminology.
In the study of punctuation, which came next, a special effort was made to state the rules in terms of sense rather than of grammar and to distinguish between the more and the less important punctuation usages. Clearly, much more can be done in teaching punctuation as a way of making sense, and in devising exercises in which punctuation will actually determine sense, by resolving ambiguity or otherwise making clear what was obscure.
The students' next task was to do some actual writing in Basic English for practice in making use of the complete system. At this point, as throughout the work, it was emphasized that learning to write Basic was merely a means to an end.
Following this, the students turned to the close study of how eight passages of complete English had been put into Basic. The originals and the Basic accounts, together with some comment, appeared in the text. Most of the passages dealt chiefly with fact and opinion, though two (one of verse) had considerable emotional content. As this study went forward the students were engaged in putting complete English passages into Basic. At first, uniform assignments were made; this was helpful in making classroom comment and analysis of interest to all. After a time the students were directed to make their own selections,
approval by the instructor usually being required. The students were encouraged to choose passages from their own texts, especially those in social science courses, to bring home to them the practical value of Basic in getting an understanding of language used in college work quite outside that of the English department. One assignment was to make a Basic account of Hardy's Hap; this resulted in two or three extremely lively class hours in which the students spiritedly gave their interpretations of this poem.
Since by the time they undertook this work the students had a reasonable grasp of the Basic system, these tasks were almost pure exercises in interpretation. Making a Basic account of a complete English passage involves much more than the simple substitution of Basic word x for complete English word y; there are no Basic equivalents which may be applied mechanically and without thought. The problem is one of restating on a simpler level the sense of what has already been said on a more complex one. Above all, the student must have some clear idea of what the original writer was attempting. No intelligible Basic account is possible without this understanding. And if the student is to write sensible Basic, he must take very carefully into account the relations between words--both grammatical and logical relations. He must often make choices between several possible interpretations--or even indicate more than one possible interpretation in his Basic account. A result of all this is a closer and more careful attention to what language is and how it works than most college students are ever called on to give.
When the students had become fairly adept at this sort of work, they were asked to do more of it and in addition to write
--in complete English-- comparing the Basic with the original, discussing any special points of difficulty they encountered. A sample paper of this sort is here given exactly as it was submitted by the student.
The recently revived conflict between religion and science on the question of evolution seems to be based on misconception on both sides,
A belief in evolution and in the existence of a Creative Intelligence are in no way incompatible. The study of evolution is merely a study of the mechanics of creation with a recognition of the continuity of the creative process. The evolutionist can determine the steps by which new forms of life have come into being, but be remains ignorant of the "force" responsible for these changes and for their direction. He can prove that life, whose source itself is unknown, has assumed more and more complex forms with the passage of time, but he cannot tell us why it has done so. He cannot even forecast, with any degree of accuracy, what forms evolving life will assume. His researches to date make the existence of a Creative Intelligence more rather than less probable.
The argument which came to a head again a short time back between religion and science on the question of the development of our complete system of living seems to be based on false ideas kept by both sides.
A belief in this development of man from lower animals and in the existence of some sort of Higher Being, who is acting as a Guiding Hand and who put man on the earth after having made the earth itself, are in no way out of place. Learning about this development, which is science's theory, is simply learning about the principle of the birth of all existence and at the same time being conscious of the fact that the building process of living has been a smooth, unbroken forward moving. He who is a supporter of this theory of development is able to make out the steps by which new forms of existence have come into being, but he is still in the dark about the "force" responsible for these changes and for their direction. He can make certain, by experience and argument, that existence, of whose root itself he has no knowledge, has taken on more and more complex forms with the flight of time, but he is unable to give us an account, without a large number of errors, as to what forms existence, which is ever undergoing expansion, will take on. His work on this question up until the present makes the existence of a Higher Being, a Guiding Hand, more in place of less probable.
The first few times I read this passage through, I didn't realize that two opposing theories were being explained and compared. My comment had been based on the fact that I was in the muddle as far as the theory of evolution was concerned. Not being a student of sociology and the development of man, I didn't at first realize that the beliefs in a Creative Intelligence and in evolution were two different theories of creation and for a while I couldn't see how one could have a belief in such a thing as "the mechanics of creation." The use of so many fictions had left me where I couldn't tell where one fiction began and
another ended. This, I believe, is the reason for my confusion at first. Many of these fictions are so vague that it is almost impossible to translate them with their full meanings.
Evolution has been translated as "the development of man from lower animals." It was done in this manner in order to compare evolution to the theory that man was placed on earth by a Higher Being. The words "Creative Intelligence" aroused some interest and some question. The word "Intelligence" seemed to imply that the world was being guided by a Higher Being who had life all planned out and so it was translated with that in mind. The phrase "mechanics of creation" offered a little difficulty, but I finally decided that "principle of birth" would be accurate enough in view of the fact that principles are often associated with mechanics. It may have been noticed that the word "force," which is another fiction, is left in the basic account. The reason for this is that, inasmuch as the evolutionist knows nothing about it, it is impossible to give it a material definition.
The latter half of the passage obviously is comparing the two theories. It suggests that the theory of evolution can proceed just so far in its explanation of life and from there, religion's philosophy carries on. At the end, it goes so far as to say that the arguments established by evolutionists help to increase the probability of the existence of a Creative Intelligence.
From this discussion, it is apparent that it is necessary to reread passages, such as the one I translated, several times in order to get the complete and correct meanings in their proper relationship. This passage is an excellent example, I believe, of the value and virtues of Basic English. Whether or not I was able to translate it clearly into basic makes little difference. The fact remains that I think I know more of what the passage contains than I would have otherwise. The basic account may not run as smoothly as the original but it is certainly of more value to a reader than the original.
It is of course quite possible to quarrel with this work at various, points. First of all, it may be said that the Basic account contains three words not in the Basic word list (principle, can, until) and at least one idiom not within the range of sense permitted by the Basic system (came to a head). The Basic is not always as smooth as possible. Though the comment seems on the whole reasonably well written and intelligent, there is a contradiction and confusion of thought in the last paragraph. This work, however, was done by a first-semester Freshman before the Christmas holidays and would, I think, bear up pretty well when compared with the usual "themes" produced by conventional systems.
In the semester examination the students were asked to make a Basic account of a passage having to do with fact and opinion, to make a fully expanded Basic account of a short metaphor, to compare this with the original metaphor, and to state in complete English the suggestions brought to mind by the metaphor, together with a determination of how many of these suggestions were pertinent to the intent of the original author.
Once the preliminary work of a course like the one outlined here is out of the way, the attention of student and teacher is focused on practical problems of communication and on trying to understand the processes of reading and writing. It is now becoming fashionable to state as a truism that persons write badly because they read badly, and I am sure this is true; but, so far as I know, courageous and thoroughgoing attacks on the problem of reading comprehension based on a definite and workable technique have so far not been put forward. It is hardly enough to put out a book of essays and ask a few more or less searching questions about them at the end. The problem is delicate and complex, and I for one do not see how it can be successfully met without a clearly prescribed technique. Basic English seems to me a complete and flexible instrument which can and should be used. The time taken by the student in learning to use it is not great (a good student who will put his mind on it can learn to write acceptable Basic is less than a week), and the fact that it gives a common ground for attacking problems of communication is of great value.
A second great advantage of the method described here is that it provides for the study of English as a living language. The student is not asked to concern himself with abstractions like unity and coherence, or with formulated rules having to do with dangling modifiers, the case of nouns linked with gerunds, and like matters. He is asked to determine clearly and accurately what a given writer or speaker was trying to do with language on a given occasion. Thus it might be claimed that this sort of work is at least a step toward what has been called rhetoric for a democracy. In short, it directs attention not to the tangential but to the central aspects of language study.
One more of the advantages may be mentioned here. This method is a complete solution of the problem of what the student is to write about. He is to write critical analyses of specific material; the course in rhetoric will deal at last with rhetoric. I am fully conscious of my assumption here that Freshman English should have as its chief object the training of the student to understand written language and to produce written language which may be understood.
8. By Winthrop Tilley, Associate Professor in the University of Connecticut. College English. 1:438-44. February 1940.
HOW CURRENT ADS WOULD READ IN BASIC ENGLISH 9
It would be quite simple for American copy writers to put their advertisements into Basic. American businesses, along with British, would have an important edge in increasing trade with other nations through the printed word and over the air.
Here are some comparisons which give an idea of how Basic might work out in the writing of copy. Examples are from current advertisements, first as run in normal English then changed into Basic.
From an advertisement of Armour and Company:
With school-going children and war-working grownups in the family toting lunches these days--you have an important new job on your hands. Their health and energy depend on the planning you put into the packing of every meal they carry.
Nutrition-wise, it should provide about one-third of their daily food requirements. And if you want praise coming your way, pack in some taste surprises, too ! These menus from Armour food economists will help give you the variety they want--and the good nutrition they must have . . .
Now the same in Basic:
With the school-going boys and girls and war-working men and women in the family taking box-meals with them these days -- you have important new work on your hands. Strong
and healthy bodies are dependent on the thought you put into the making of every meal you send with them.
Food-wise, it should give about one-third of their daily needs. And if you want kind words coming your way, put in some taste surprises, too ! These meal-plans from Armour food experts will be of help in giving them the wide selection they want and the good, healthy meals they must have . . .
Here is a current Kayser advertisement:
All over the globe women cling to their love of fine Kayser things. Kayser still manufactures in four of the United Nations
--the United States, Canada, England. and Australia . . . still sells in over thirty countries . . . advertises, too . . . something no other maker of gloves, stockings, and underwear with a famous brand name can say! But--Kayser's at war, too, first producing vital needs for the Allied Air Forces, Armies, and Navies. This means that beautiful Kayser products of bountiful pre-war days are becoming fewer. Yet, such is the imperishable love of quality, women everywhere are gladly saying: "I can do with less--if it's Kayser!"
In Basic English:
All over the earth women keep to their love of beautiful Kayser things. Kayser still makes women's clothing in four of the United Nations -- the United States, Canada, England, and Australia. ... still does business in over thirty countries . . . is a user of advertisements, too . . . something no other maker of gloves, stockings, and underwear with a noted trade name can say ! But -- Kayser's at war, too, first making important needs for the Allied Air Forces, Armies, and Navies. So beautiful Kayser things are not to be had in such large numbers as before the war. Still, so strong is the love of quality, women everywhere are happily saying: "I can do with less -- if it's Kayser!"
At times, it takes more words to give the same thought in Basic than it does in normal English, and copy may be somewhat longer. On the other hand, a short word frequently does the work of a long one. In any event, Basic is so completely cleat and simple that it has a tendency to make a statement
stronger. Certain of its ideas might be of no small value in the writing of copy for those who make up the mass market here in the United States.
Some copy, like the examples given above, can be turned into Basic with surprisingly little change. Others, using complex words and structure, are very hard to make over. Possibly it may be true that these simpler advertisements have greater effect among readers in this country. Most persons, after all, have knowledge of only a limited number of words.
As is pointed out by Ogden, any attempt to put what we have to say simply and straightforwardly is a step in the right direction. This is to be noted, among other places, in the field of business letters. Much good ink and paper is wasted in writing about "an esteemed customer" or "being favored by an inquiry." Other round-about forms, like "the undersigned begs your favorable consideration of the matter appended," could be given up without serious loss.
This story, by the way, was turned out in Basic English. No other words than the 850 on the Basic list were used.
9. As translated by P. H. Erbes. Jr., Associate Editor, Printers' Ink. Printers' Ink. 204:22-3. September 24, 1943.
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