The Last Step
1. POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND
The general account of the Basic system is now complete but you will not have the necessary working knowledge till you have gone through all the words in the Basic list in turn to get a clear idea of their behavior and special uses.
The Basic Words is the guide for this purpose. In this book, every word of the 850 is given its parallels in French and German; so anyone with some knowledge of these languages will have a key to the sense of the words. It is not possible, however, to do more than give rough parallels, because words which seem to be used for the same thing in two languages are in fact frequently used in very different ways, and a word in German, one of whose senses is the same as one of the senses of an English word, may have other senses which the English word has not.
In addition to the French and German parallels examples are given and there is some account in Basic of every expansion and special sense. Naturally, it is not possible to get round the senses of the 850 words very happily inside the limits of the system, because the selection of these words has been based on our most important needs. So the only point of putting Basic into Basic is to make the sense clearer. It is not an attempt to give 'ways round' which may be seriously used.
In The Basic Words it will be seen which words take endings, and which may be used as other sorts of words. All the words now used as International are listed. With them may be grouped
the necessary material for measuring and numbering (see page 286). In addition, all the Special Uses (first-level and second-level) are listed, and examples are given of all the special tricks of separate words. For example, it will be seen that fruit is generally used as if it was the name of a substance, and that fish may be looked on in the same way. Such details do not all get attention in the ABC.
In Basic, full use is made of the fact that words of a narrow range may be covered by words of a wider range, if account is taken of the way in which the sense of a word is pinned down by the connection in which it is used. We do not, for example, have the word 'husband' among our 850, and the Basic parallel given in The Basic Dictionary is married man. This is all right in a general way, but when it comes to statements other words may be happier. If we are talking of "her first husband," we may say "the man she was first married to," but if the question is put, "How is your husband today?" it would be better to say "How is Mr. X today?"
In The Basic Dictionary, the Basic parallels are given in detail, but in any special connection it is generally possible to say something very much shorter; and though some suggestion is made as to which words will most probably be of use, experience and common sense are the best guides. For example, a 'claim' is given as "a request based on a right," but a "claim for insurance" is a "request for payment of the insurance."
Again, when there is an expansion of the sense, care may be needed to get the right effect in Basic. 'Severe' is 'hard' or 'cruel'; but if used about a cold in the head these words would be quite foolish. Clearly, in this connection, 'had' is the right thing to say. In other words, when two or three suggestions are put before you, give some thought to the point of what you are saying before making a selection.
2. INTERNATIONAL WORDS
An international language has to be as simple as possible for the learner, and for this reason all words which are truly international are naturally looked on as part of the Basic system.
To give a new word in place of one which is common to every language would clearly be foolish. But what is an international word? Or, and this is more to the point, who makes the decision as to what words are international? In the end it is you, the men and women of Japan, of China, of Russia, of Scandinavia, of Africa, who will be the judges. But though the last word will be yours, the first decisions have been made by a smaller body, a representative committee of experts, who have gone through the material with care to get a small group of words which, in their
opinion, will not be questioned by most. In addition, there is a waiting-list of 300 suggestions which will not be taken as international till the general reaction to them has been tested more fully by a special committee of radio authorities.
The words about which the experts have come to a decision are printed in The Basic Words.
There are 51 of these, the 'adjective' international itself, and the names of things:
alcohol, aluminum, automobile, bank, bar, beef, beer, calendar, chemist, check, chocolate, chorus, cigarette, club, coffee, colony, dance, engineer, gas, hotel, influenza, lava, madam, nickel, opera, orchestra, paraffin, park, passport, patent, phonograph, piano, police, post, program, propaganda, radio, restaurant, sir, sport, taxi, tea, telegram (telegraph), telephone, terrace, theater, tobacco, university, whisky, zinc;
Together with 12 names of sciences:
Algebra, Arithmetic, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Geometry, Mathematics, Physics, Physiology, Psychology, Zoology.
With these, 15 words may be noted which come into special names used internationally:
College, Dominion, Embassy, Empire, Imperial, King, Miss, Mr., Mrs., Museum, President, Prince, Princess, Queen, Royal.
These words are not necessarily international.
In addition to the 50 words which have been fixed as international and are of value for Basic, a further 50 may be listed about which there is at present more doubt. These will be used with care for a year or two for the purpose of testing reactions. Here is the list:
ammonia, asbestos, autobus, ballet, café, catarrh, champagne, chauffeur, circus, citron, cocktail, cognac, dynamite, encyclopedia, glycerine, hyena, hygiene, hysteria, inferno, jazz, liqueur, macaroni, malaria, mania, nicotine, olive, omelette, opium, paradise, penguin, platinum, potash, pyjamas, pyramid, quinine, radium, referendum, rheumatism, rum, salad, sardine, tapioca, toast, torpedo, vanilla, violin, visa, vodka, volt, zebra.
As little change as possible is made in place-names, but when a form would seem very strange to an Englishman or an American it is given as in normal English. Examples are Germany and Rome. Happily there is a tendency to take such names over into the English language untouched.
In addition to what has been listed, measuring words, number words, and words in the money systems of the different countries are said to be international, and given in their English form.
The days and months of the year are worked in the same way.
Here are the days of the week:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Here are the months of the year:
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.
Here are the necessary words for numbers:
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen . . . , twenty, twenty-one, . . . , thirty, forty, fifty, hundred, thousand, million , once, twice , half, quarter, third, fourth, fifth.
The learner who has got so far in the system and is able to make use of it for general purposes may at this point put the question "Of what use is Basic to me in my special field?" The answer is that by getting 150 more words into his head, making the number up to 1,000, he will have everything necessary for talking about a branch of science, or any other special field. 100 of these words are general science words (there may be other such general lists for other fields), of value in the discussion of any branch of knowledge which comes under the heading 'Science.' The other 50 are made up from the narrower field in which special interest is taken. An account of these lists is given on pages 391-93 of Section Three. Happily, much more is international for science than for general purposes, and it is hoped that, in the future, all true science words may become international by agreement, making Basic necessary only as the framework of discussion.