With a Foreword by
L. W. Lockhart
Former Assistant Director, Orthological Institute
Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York
Copyright © 1968 by Orthological Institute
Basic English : International Second Language is a revised and expanded version of The
System of Basic English, which has long been out of print. Its reappearance in a revised edition
some ten years after C. K. Ogden's death is a welcome event which will give a new generation of
English-speaking students an opportunity to make their own assessment of the merits of Basic. The book
will be of special interest to all who teach English as a foreign language by methods which owe a
great deal to Ogden's ideas but who have no firsthand knowledge of the Basic system itself.
The present volume differs from its predecessor in two respects. The general account of Basic which formed Section One of the book in previous editions has been replaced by an adapted version of Basic English, Ogden's original introduction to the system, and Section Two has been expanded by the inclusion of The Basic Words, a comprehensive guide to the permitted senses and uses of the Basic Vocabulary. It is a fitting tribute to Ogden that Basic English, The ABC of Basic English, and The Basic Words, the classic trilogy with which he laid the foundations of his system, should now be presented for the first time in a single volume. Together they provide the intelligent reader with all he needs to make himself proficient in the use of Basic. The selection of examples of Basic writing in Section Three has at the same time been revised and strengthened by the addition of new material, taken for the most part from Basic publications but including various items of special interest, such as the original text, with the Basic English version opposite, of the pronouncement by the British Government following Churchill's celebrated speech at Harvard in 1943 in favor of Basic English. An extract from the latter appears elsewhere in the book.
Readers familiar with Basic may observe that certain minor changes in usage have been incorporated in The Basic Words. All these changes were sanctioned by Ogden, and it was his intention to introduce them into the authorized teaching material as and when the opportunity offered ; a few of them have in fact already been adopted in The Basic Teacher and its translations. The present revision is, accordingly, in the nature of, a "tidying up" operation. The use of -er, -ing, and -ed endings with adjectives has been extended a little and the reclassification of a number of quasi-idioms which are more properly extensions of sense has enabled further useful idiomatic phrases to be included in the list of permitted uses, but the essential framework of Basic remains unchanged. It must be emphasized that the modifications in question, while increasing the resources of Basic, in no way invalidate existing Basic texts since virtually nothing has been discarded.
The hopes that were raised for the future of Basic as a world language by the powerful support it received from Churchill and others (see pages 97-114) have unfortunately not been realized. Its lack of progress in the last two decades has not surprisingly led some to assume that the system would not work. In a paper read to the Royal Society of Arts in London in April 1966, Professor J. A. Lauwerys, Chairman of the Basic English Foundation, corrected this impression by disclosing that the failure of Ogden's carefully laid plans for the promotion of Basic on a worldwide scale was due almost entirely to the obstructions and difficulties he had to contend with when he became involved with officialdom. By kind permission of the Royal Society of Arts, this paper by Professor Lauwerys is reproduced as an Appendix to Section One.
The decision of the publishers of The System to make it available again in a more comprehensive form and the recent publication of The Science Dictionary in Basic English, in both England and the United States 1 is an encouraging sign that Basic is attracting increasing interest. Professor Lauwerys outlined in his paper some of the projects that the Basic English Foundation would like to put in hand if funds were available. He also pointed out that there is a growing demand for English in the newly emerging countries. Is it too much to hope that the invaluable part that Basic could play in facilitating programs of scientific and technological aid to these countries will soon be fully recognized?
1. Under the title The Basic Dictionary of Science.
L. W. LOCKHART
London, March 1968