- - - - -
17. This section combines, under a new title, two sections of the original book called "The System" and "Grammatical Principles." The reason for this is that the first of these was largely, and the second partly, concerned with giving, in more summary form, the details of the system which are more fully set forth in The ABC of Basic English. Those parts judged to be unnecessarily repetitious in this volume have, accordingly, been omitted. The omissions have sometimes been indicated in the text, but since a consequence of them was to necessitate some rearrangement of the material that was left, this has not always been possible. Nothing has been sacrificed to the desire to weed out repetitions. Wherever a point has been made in a new way, with a new emphasis, and so on, it has been left in even though it may be encountered again. ED.
Basic English, as may be seen from the vocabulary, in which 600 out of the 850 words are noun-forms, is a system in which the noun plays a predominant part. Much space has been wasted on the barren controversy between noun and verb advocates, with their claims that one or other of these forms was historically the first speech-unit to appear. Both sides seem to have supposed that by stressing such a claim the adjective 'natural' would receive additional justification if applied to their system.
One important advantage of any system which features the noun is the assistance to be derived from the pictorial method, and particularly from the pictorial dictionary to which the various Larousse compilations are already pointing the way. In addition, therefore, to a copiously illustrated dictionary, a volume entitled Basic by Pictures will eventually be available;18 and the compilers of the dictionary of the future will doubtless see the wisdom of combining the pictorial method with the various panoptic19 diagrams devised for the teaching of Basic.
The nouns cover a very wide range. The list of 200 pictured things (i.e., words best taught by pictures) refers, apart from geometrical shapes, to objects which can be touched, seen, and isolated from other things. Some of the things referred to by the 400 necessary names, such as an animal, or a vessel, are of a similar character but much less suitable for pictorial presentation. Others, such as a mine, or a road, can be touched and seen, but not, as a rule, detached from their surroundings. Others again, such as ink, oil, or tin, are names of liquids or materials which cannot be treated either as movable or as fixed material objects, but are yet concrete, and can be isolated in definite amounts. The names of these last do not take 'a' in front of them or form plurals except when the unit thus indicated is a class (e.g., a paint = a kind of paint, paints kinds of paint). The same limitation applies to the use of the plural form.
In addition to these names there are a number of nouns (for example, harmony, quality) which do not stand for anything concrete, though all languages by a convenient make-believe have treated them as though they did. These are names of fictions.20 They present no special problems from a grammatical point of view, but the distinction is important if we are to understand what language is communicating.
There are two main ways in which the scope of a noun, or of any other word in the vocabulary, may be expanded : extension and specialization.
Expansion is the use of a symbol, devised for one thing or group of things, to refer to some related thing or group. The relation may be that of part to whole, as in the derivation of letter (epistle) from letter (of the alphabet) ; of cause to effect, as in the use of bite for the act of biting and the wound made by it ; of performer to performance, as in the derivation of lift (elevator) from the act of lifting, and so on. 21
Specialization is the differentiated use of an undifferentiated word. A man who 'sends in an account' is understood to have sent in a bill. When we read in the papers of 'the death of a famous Judge' we do not speculate as to whether he was a judge of horses, wine, or pictures ; we know at once that he was a legal judge. Specialization is in one sense a limiting factor, but it enlarges the scope of a general vocabulary by enabling it to dispense with words having only a very particularized usage.
From any Basic word it is legitimate to form one specialization, and as many recognized extensions as are simple and convenient. Details of these derived uses of the vocabulary will be found in The Basic Words.22
Noun-forms can generate four derivatives : two nouns (-er and -ing suffixes) and two adjectives (-ing and -ed suffixes), where these are in use in Standard English.
In addition to these, all action nouns ending in -ing may be used as qualifiers, and form the -er derivative (as do the -ing adjectives) by substituting the -er suffix for their -ing ending, e.g., building, builder.
The active sense of the -ing form makes it natural for it to be followed by the name of the thing acted on. (I am printing. What ? A book.) This, for Basic, is not a concession to verb usage, and the traditional account of the "direct object in the accusative," etc., would clearly be out of place. It is, however, a stylistic convenience, and, for beginners, substitutes present no difficulty:
acting a play = getting a play acted ; doing a play ; putting a play on the stage. airing dresses = giving dresses an airing ; getting dresses aired. answering letters = giving answers to letters ; getting letters answered ; writing in answer to letters. attacking a town = making an attack on a town.The -ed ending, being purely adjectival (a printed book, a book printed in London), must not be used as a past tense form. The learner cannot say "I have yellow the printed book," and "I have printed the yellow book" would involve the whole verb technique.
Adjectives are of two kinds : qualifiers, which ascribe qualities to objects ; and quantifiers, which indicate the quantities of objects. These last are never preceded by a or the and do not form comparatives.24 They are listed in the column of 'operations, etc.' because, unlike the qualifiers, they are mere linguistic accessories and have no referential function.
In the rules printed on the Word List it is indicated that the comparative and superlative are formed with more and most respectively. But the alternative forms made by the addition of -er and -est to the adjective are also allowed. The general rule is that qualifiers of one syllable form comparatives in -er and -est, while those of more than one syllable do so with more and most. It is, however, subject to a few exceptions : bent, like, wrong compare with more and most ; early takes -er, -est.
There are 50 qualifiers which may form negatives, coinciding in many cases with the opposites, by adding the prefix un-. [For example, able, certain, natural. For the complete list, see Section Two, Part One, 2, page 131.]
A few of these formations, such as unnormal, are departures from Standard English. All, however, can readily be avoided by the use of not, and the beginner who desires not to disturb the susceptibilities of the purist during the next few years can thus always attain his desire -- while, for others, improbable, etc., will cause no trouble.25 The justification for these optional innovations would be that they may develop a salutary tendency in the language and are not unduly offensive.
The qualifiers form derivatives in a manner similar to the nouns, but the range is more circumscribed ; 12 out of the 150 take the suffixes -er and -ing. They are as follows : clean, clear, complete, cut, dirty, dry, free, open, separate, shut, smooth, and wet.26
24. "A" and "the" are the only adjectives of the nonsymbolic type which are not, strictly speaking, quantifiers : A indicates an individual of a class, without emphasizing its being a particular member of a class. From this it follows that a cannot be used for quantities of substances having no individual form, but only for kinds of substances as distinct from other kinds. For euphony, a becomes an before all the vowels, except 'u' when pronounced as in unit. The indicates a particular individual or group of individuals in a class, or a unique individual. it is also used with the singular form to indicate the representative of a class. For a further account of a and the, adapted for learners, see The ABC. [Section Two, Part One, 1, p. 128.1
25. Other permissible variants include never [Section Two, p. 139] for not ever, further (furthest) [Section Two, pp. 174-75], and don't, etc. [Section Two, p. 139].
26. This list was later increased by the addition of the adjectives clear, smooth, complete, free. dirty, and wet, making 12 in all ; and of these all but cut and shut were allowed to take the -ed ending as well. See Section Two, Part One, p. 180. ED.
One of the main principles of simplification in Basic is the use of 'operation-words' combined with prepositions in their adverbial form to take the place of verbs. This construction has been gaining ground in Standard English since the fifteenth century, and the language now possesses a host of respectable Idioms constructed in this way which offer alternatives, within the scope of the 'operation-words,' for all the important verb utterances.
It is with a view to eliminating word waste that Basic has introduced a very considerable modification in the verb-system by developing the use of these alternatives.
The verb-form has hitherto been one of the great barriers to all attempts at simplification, and as a linguistic device it is not in universal use. For some, therefore, it raises difficulties too great to be mastered at the outset, while even for those who are familiar with the intricacies of the system, irregularities of form in a foreign language overload the memory. Another objection is that verbs involve a wasteful vocabulary in the preliminary stage ; by using the 'operation-words' to the fullest possible extent, nouns and adjectives can be made to do double work. Finally, and this is an even more fundamental consideration, verbs, like all stylistic contractions, may lead to confusion of thought at any stage of symbolization.
The operation-words, as may be seen from the picture on page 21, are ten in number, if be, seem, and have are treated for convenience with the two auxiliaries may and will. In addition to these there are three analogical extras, say, see, and send -- included in the vocabulary because they lend facility to communication and provide a useful link between the operation-words and the verb-system proper.
The combination of the ten operation-words and the three operator-auxiliaries with the twenty directives immediately gives us equivalents of roughly 200 simple English verbs. Thus, put in = 'insert.' But since the ordinary English vocabulary is chiefly composed of synonyms distinguished by subtleties which are not relevant in more than 10 percent of their uses, put in is actually the equivalent of many other verbs in particular situations. Thus, put (a word) in = 'interject,' put (an account) in = 'render,' put (the tea) in = 'infuse,' put (the sheep) in = 'fold,' put (a request) in = 'file,' put (a seed) in (the earth) = 'plant,' put (the baby) in (the bath) = 'immerse,' put (things) in (a house) = 'install,' and so forth. Let us suppose that twenty of these lie on the surface for the average translator, and we have in fact not 200 but 4,000 fresh 'words,' i.e., self-evident, bipartite analytic equivalents for what in ordinary English usually involves an extra word, all without adding a single 'idiom' proper (see page 31), or increasing in any way the phonetic difficulty of the foreigner.
By an operation is meant not only the fundamental operations of physics, but the simplest and most familiar actions of every-day life in so far as they are performed by one thing on another, or by the human organism as a whole on some other thing.
Actually, the most general operation is to 'move' ; to 'push' and to 'pull' are a little more specific.
In the case of human beings, the most general operations are likewise moving, pushing, and pulling ; together with put and take. Slightly more specific are give and get ; and for movements of the organism, come and go. Then we have make (creative change), keep (continuity), let (acquiescence), and do (generalized activity). Fortunately it is possible to cover the first group, in Basic, with the help of nouns :
move = give (a thing) a move, or put (a thing) in motion. push = give a push to (a thing). pull = give a pull to (a thing).So ten operation-words, supplemented by the operational uses of be (existence), seem (oppositional accessory to be), and have (possession), achieve all that is required.
|MAKE the paper into a hat.||GIVE the hat to someone.|
|HAVE the hat.||GET the hat from someone.|
|PUT the hat on the head.||GO from this place.|
|TAKE the hat from the head.||COME to this place.|
|KEEP the hat here.||BE doing.|
|LET the hat go.||SEEM to be (doing).|
|DO any act.|
1. Duty FOR You should do your best SUBSTITUTE 'It is right for you to do your best.' 2. Plan FOR The order was that I (or he) should go SUBSTITUTE 'The order was that I (he) was to go, for me (him) to go' OR 'My (His) order was to go. 3. Subjunctive FOR If he should come, Future SUBSTITUTE 'If he came.'It has been explained that the main auxiliary use of may is to indicate possibility. The permissive operator-form arises out of this auxiliary use. Where the possibility is due to the will of the speaker or of some other person, then may becomes permissive, so that You may go is really a contraction for I will let you go or You have a right to go. There are also two subsidiary auxiliary uses of may for which substitute phrases can easily be found. The subjunctive form, Do this that you may be strong, is rendered in Basic as Do this so that you will be strong ; and the exclamatory form, May they do well ! becomes It is my desire (or hope) that they will do well. See also The ABC pages 137-38.
Each of the 'directives' is spatially definable without ambiguity in its root use. These root definitions are set out in the diagram on the next page ; but the movements of a fish in a tank would be equally applicable for the first stages of teaching by dumb-show.
By trying out each operation-word in turn with each directive it will readily be discovered in a general way which combinations conform to the nature of the physical universe, and which phrases, therefore, are free from idiomatic difficulty. Out is included as a borderline example between an adverb and a directive. Grammatically, it is an adverb, but its significance is directional ; and as its opposite in is a directive, the diagram would be incomplete if out were omitted.
|AT||The ball is at the edge of the table.||WITH||The black brick is with the ball.|
|FROM||The ball is going from the hand.||AGAINST||The black brick is against the white brick.|
|TO||The ball is going to the hand.||ACROSS||The black rod is across the white rod.|
|AFTER||3 is after 2.||AMONG||The ball is among the bricks.|
|BEFORE||1 is before 2.||ABOUT||The bricks are about the ball.|
|THROUGH||The rod is through the board.||DOWN||The ball is down.|
|BETWEEN||The ball is between the bricks.||UP||The ball is up.|
|UNDER||The ball is under the arch.||ON||The ball is on the table.|
|OVER||The arch is over the ball.||OFF||The ball is off the table.|
|BY||The ball is by the arch.||IN||The ball is in the bucket.|
|OUT||The ball is out of the basket.|
The adverb exists as a separate part of speech only through a process of linguistic abbreviation. Any statement made by means of an adverb can be translated intelligibly, though perhaps clumsily, into terms of other parts of speech. Adverbs of degree are 'to some extent' ; of place, 'in some place'; of time, 'at some time'; of manner, 'in some way or manner.' It is only by representing the adverb as a 'potted' form of symbolization that the student unfamiliar with adverbs can be made to grasp their nature.
Except for the 's, which is required as an alternative method of indicating possession, there are no so-called case inflections among the nouns. In the Basic system, therefore, these inflections may be treated as forms peculiar to pronouns. Since pronouns are themselves grammatical accessories, any elaboration of grammar is more appropriate to them than to the nouns. The alternative possessive inflection for use when the pronoun comes after the noun which it qualifies is convenient rather than necessary. Details of this sort should not be introduced to the learner till he is completely fluent.
Conjunctions, like quantifiers, are not simple referential words, but accessories in the machinery of linguistic communication. It is the function of the conjunction to link groups of words to one another so that they conform to a pattern of thought.
(1) I will give simple rules to the boy slowly.
(2) The camera man who made an attempt to take a moving picture of the society women, before they got their hats off, did not get off the ship till he was questioned by the police.
A sentence is any arrangement of words intended as a formal unit of communication.
Although word-order is dealt with at some length, both here and in The ABC, it is obviously not an essential part of the course to a student who desires no more than a reader's acquaintance with Basic English. Nor is it a first-level necessity, even for the speaker. Anyone who has learned the Basic Vocabulary with its nearest equivalents in his own language can proceed to put the words together in sentences ; he will usually be understood both by English hearers and by all who know the words, provided the main sequence of thing-operation-direction is followed.
The model sentences, however, are so easy to learn, as a framework into which the whole vocabulary may be fitted as it is learned, that probably few will risk the oddities of expression which any word-for-word translation must involve.
It is, therefore, recommended that the vocabulary be learned both as a series of word-pairs (the single word with its nearest equivalent in a foreign language), and also with each word fitted into model sentences -- as in Basic by Examples.
The rules which cover the essentials of word-order will enable almost any sentence to be given a correct equivalent in Basic. If relatively simple sentences only are attempted, both fluency and intelligibility are assured on all occasions. Anything more ambitious, whether in the direction of style or complication, cam. be attained by a study of the specimen translations.
It would be foolish to take exception to the placing of the preposition at the end of a sentence. This word-order is sanctioned by old-established English idiom.27 The gradual return to the prepositional ending is encouraged by the increasing use of the verb-preposition combinations. When the directive is combined with the verb adverbially, it naturally comes at the end of the sentence, and so accustoms the eye to the word-order, e.g.,
9. INTERNATIONAL TERMS, MEASUREMENT, ETC.
Words which are internationally understood are available for use. For the 101 international words so far recognized by Basic, see The ABC of Basic English [in this volume, page 234], where 12 names of sciences and 15 'international names' (i.e., words used in titles, etc.) are also accepted. If such words have local variations, the English form should be employed. The International vocabulary covers measurement terms, including numerals, and the currency systems of the various countries of the world. Knowledge is assumed of the English form of the Calendar.
The pronunciation of the general international terms will, of course, be included in the gramophone records which will cover the whole phonetic and grammatical side of the system, but it is unnecessary to load the printed Vocabulary with anything that is not a mnemonic essential. The number of such terms to be accepted is still the subject of various questionnaires. There is a long list of candidates which have a prima facie claim to internationality in the West and have already obtained considerable currency in Japan.
The advice of Radio Committees in different countries is now being sought, and their rulings will be sifted by those who are collaborating in the forthcoming Basic translations. Here is a selection:
10. SLANG, ONOMATOPOEIA
Slang terms are introduced into Basic English in inverted commas, as also are technical terms which are not covered by any special vocabulary when they are introduced into the text with explanatory matter. It is also worth taking advantage of onomatopoeia. A very large number of English monosyllables, for which equivalents are hard to find, just because of their peculiar appropriateness, conventionally onomatopoeic in character and therefore universally intelligible in many simple contexts. Some of these 28 are therefore available for a Universal Language in their simple - noun form, together with other purely onomatopoeic symbols such as cuckoo, hiccup, and tom-tom. Examples are buzz, cluck, crash, croak, flap, miaou/mew, pop, splash, tick, and possibly even wheeze.
To sum up for English translators: