logo BASIC ENGLISH: International Second Language
Section Four, Part One, Pg 367


The chief questions about the theory and purpose of Basic have now been answered; an account of the way in which the system came into existence has been given; and the structure of the system itself, with most of the details necessary for learning and teaching it, has been made clear. Section Two of this volume and more than half of Section One were all in Basic, so there is little doubt that the 850 words will say everything necessary about language and its behavior. The examples to which we now come are designed to let us see Basic in operation in other important fields.


1. The Gettysburg Address

Seven and eighty years have gone by from the day when our fathers gave to this land a new nation -- a nation which came to birth in the thought that all men are free, a nation given up to the idea that all men are equal. Now we are fighting in a great war among ourselves, putting it to the test if that nation, or any nation of such a birth and with such a history, is able long to keep united. We are together on the field of a great event in that war. We have come to give a part of that field as a last resting-place for those who went to their death so that that nation might go on living. It is in every way right and natural for us to do this. But in a wider sense we have no power to make this place an offering in their name, to give any mark of our respect, any sign of our belief. Those men, living and dead, who had no fear in the fight, have given it a name far greater than our poor power to make additions or to take away. The future will take little note of what we say here; will not long keep it in mind. But what they did here will never go from memory. It is for us, the living, to give ourselves here to the work which is not ended, which they who were in the fight have taken forward to this point so well. It is for us to give ourselves here to the great work which is still before us, so that from these dead who are in our hearts we may take an increased love of the cause for which they gave the last full measure of their love; so that we may here come to the high decision that these dead will not have given themselves to no purpose; so that this nation, under the Father of All, may have a new birth in the hope to be free; and so that government of all, by all, and for all, may not come to an end on the earth.

2. Atlantic Charter, and the Prime Minister's Statement on Basic English of March 9, 1944; in their original form, and in Basic English, for purposes of Comparison

Presented by the Prime Minister to parliament by Command of His Majesty, March 1944


The President of the United States and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world. The President of the United States and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, acting for His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being now together, are of the opinion that it is right to make public certain common ideas in the political outlook of their two countries, on which are based their hopes for a better future for all nations.
First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other. First, their countries will do nothing to make themselves stronger by taking more land or increasing their power in any other way.
Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned. Second, they have no desire for any land to be handed over from one nation to another without the freely voiced agreement of the men and women whose interests are in question.
Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them. Third, they take the view that all nations have the right to say what form of government they will have; and it is their desire to see their self-government and rights as independent nations given back to those from whom they have been taken away by force.
Fourth, they will endeavour, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity. Fourth, they will do their best, while respecting their present undertakings, to make it possible for all nations, great or small, whichever side they were on in the war, to take part in the trade, equally, with others, and have the materials which are needed for the full development of their industry.
Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field, with the object of securing for all improved labour standards, economic advancement and social security. Fifth, it is their desire to get all nations working together in complete harmony in the field of trade and industry, so that all may be given better working conditions, have greater material well-being, and be certain of the necessaries of existence.
Sixth, after the final destruction of Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want. Sixth, after the complete destruction of the Nazi rule of force, it is their hope to see a peace made which will keep all nations safe from attack from outside, and which will make certain that all the men in all the lands will be free from fear and need through all their days.
Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance. Seventh, such a peace will have to make it possible for all men to go freely everywhere across the sea.
Eighth, they believe all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise and aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments. Eighth, it is their belief that all the nations of the earth, for material reasons no less than because it is right and good, will, in the end, give up the use of force. Because war will come again if countries which are, or may be, ready to make attacks on others go on using land, sea, or air power, it is their belief that it is necessary to take away all arms from them till a wider system of keeping the general peace, more solid in structure, comes into being. They will, further, give their help and support to all other possible steps which may make the crushing weight of arms less for peace-loving nations.


The Committee of Ministers on Basic English, after hearing a considerable volume of evidence, have submitted a Report which has been approved in principle by His Majesty's Government. The Committee, in their report, distinguish between the use of a system such as Basic English as an auxiliary international language, and as a method for the teaching of ordinary English. In this latter field, several very promising methods, other than Basic, have been developed in recent years, which make use of progressively increasing vocabularies based on analysis of the words most frequently used in conversational and literary English. In foreign countries, the method used in the teaching of English will naturally be matter for the decision of the Departments of Education of those countries, and, where teaching is conducted in British Institutes, it will be a matter for the free decision of those who direct the teaching of English whether they employ any of these methods or the Basic method. There is no reason why His Majesty's Government should support one method rather than another. The Committee of Ministers on Basic English, after hearing the views of a great number of experts, have made a statement on the question which has been given general approval by His Majesty's Government. It is pointed out by the Committee in their statement that the use of a system such as Basic English as an international second language is something quite separate from its use for the teaching of normal English. In this second field, two or three other systems which give signs of working very well have been produced in the last five or ten years. These make use of selections of words, increasing by stages, which are based on observation of the words most frequently used in talking and writing English. In other countries, the system used in the teaching of English will naturally be a question for the decision of the Education Offices in those countries, and where teaching is given in British Institutes, those in control of the teaching of English will be free to make use of any of these systems or of the Basic system. There is no reason for His Majesty's Government to give more support to one system than to another.
So far, however, as concerns the use of Basic English as an auxiliary international language, His Majesty's Government are impressed with the great advantages which would ensue from its development not in substitution for established literary languages, but as a supplement thereto. The usefulness of such an auxiliary language will, of course, be greatly increased by its progressive diffusion. So far, however, as Basic English is offered as an international second language, His Majesty's Government take the view that much good would come from its development not in place of languages rooted in history and used by great writers, but as an addition to them. The value of such a second language will naturally be increased if it is more and more widely used.
His Majesty's Government have, therefore, decided on the following steps to develop Basic English as an auxiliary international and administrative language:— For this reason His Majesty's Government have come to the decision to take these steps for the development of Basic English as a language for international use and for purposes of government: -—
(1) The British Council will include among its activities the teaching of Basic English, so far as may be practicable, in any area where there may be a demand for instruction in Basic for its specific purpose as an auxiliary medium of international communication. This will be in addition to, and not in substitution for, the Council's more general activities in promoting the teaching of English for its own sake. (1) The British Council, in addition to its other work, will undertake the teaching of Basic English, so far as may be possible, in any place where there may be a desire for a knowledge of Basic for its special purpose as a second language for international use. This will be in addition to, and not in place of, the Council's more general work of helping forward the teaching of English as an end in itself.
(2) Diplomatic and commercial representatives in foreign countries will be asked to do all they can to encourage the spread of Basic English as an auxiliary language. (2) Foreign Office and trade representatives in other countries will be requested to do everything possible to get Basic English more widely used as a second language.
(3) It is also intended to arrange for the translation into Basic English of a wider range than is at present available of literature—-scientific, technical and general-—both from ordinary English and from foreign languages and so to increase the supply of manuals of instruction in Basic English. (3) In addition, our purpose is to have a wider range of books on science, on special arts and processes and on general questions put into Basic English from normal English and from other languages, at the same time increasing the number of hand books for teaching Basic English.
(4) Some Colonial Governments will be invited to experiment by the issue in Basic English of handbooks for colonial peoples on agriculture, hygiene, etc., and by the use of this simplified language as the medium for some administrative instructions issued by the Government. (4) The suggestion will be made to the Governments o some of our Colonies that they take part in the testing of Basic by getting out handbooks in Basic English or farming, on how to keep healthy, and so on for their Colonies, and by using this simple language for some of their orders in connection with government business.
(5) The British Broadcasting Corporation has been asked to consider a recommendation to include the use and teaching of Basic English in appropriate overseas programmes. The Corporation has already expressed its willingness to make experiments on these lines within the limits imposed by special war-time responsibilities and conditions. It is recognized that such developments as may be practicable must proceed in parallel with the step to be taken by other agencies. (5) The British Broadcasting Corporation has been requested to give its attention to a suggestion for the teaching and use of Basic English in overseas programmes where this might be of value. The Corporation has said that it is ready to put the system to the test on these lines inside the limits made necessary by war-time undertakings and conditions. It is clear that such developments as may be possible will have to go forward parallel with the steps taken by other bodies.
It will be seen that several Departments are concerned in these measures. It has been decided, however, that primary responsibility for questions affecting Basic English, and for giving effect to the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, should rest with the Foreign Office, through the British Council. The British Council will, of course, keep in close contact with the Foreign Office and with the other Departments concerned, and an inter-Departmental committee has been established for this purpose, under a chairman who will be nominated by the British Council. It will be seen that more than one Government Office will have a part in the programme outlined. The decision has been made, however, that the Foreign Office, through the British Council, will be chiefly responsible for questions to do with Basic English and for giving effect to the suggestions of the Committee of Ministers. The British Council will naturally keep in touch all the time with the Foreign Office and with the other Government Offices which are interested. For this purpose, a Committee made up of representatives of these Offices has been formed and its head will be a person named by the British Council.

3. The Rights of Man

H. G. Wells (1866—1946) had been dead for more than two year when most of the nations in the United Nations organization gave their approval to the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” that is to say, the agreement about the rights of persons. Though less is covered by the “Declaration” than Wells had been hoping, it might not have come into existence at all but for his work, from 1939 on, in putting before an international public the idea that such an agreement had to be part of any attempt at building a better earth-wide society. “The Rights of Man” was put into Basic English by C. K. Ogden with Wells’ help and approval in 1941.


In little more than a hundred years a complete change has taken place in the material conditions of existence. Invention and discovery have made it possible for men and news to get so much more quickly round and about the earth that the distances which kept nations and governments separate have almost been overcome. At the same time there has been such a great development of machine-industry, freeing men for work in other directions, that our powers of working with or against one another, and of using, wasting, or increasing the fruits of the earth are on a new scale, and it is hard even to make a comparison with earlier times. All through the past thirty years the rate of this process of change has been increasing and it is now not far from a danger-point.
    The greater dangers and chances of these new conditions have made adjustments necessary in our ways of living and in the structure of society. We are being forced to the organization of harmony among the separate governments which have so far been the instruments of man's political purposes.
    At the same time, in economics, we have to keep the good things of the earth safe from the waste and destruction which have been caused by the sudden expansion of business under­taken for profit and by the increasing power of money over men and things.
    Public control in the political field, in trade, in industry, and in society generally, is being forced on us.
    Our reaction to these new conditions is without direction; chances of greater well-being are being wasted for ever.
    Government is getting into the hands of one group which takes power from the rest, or is being given over to organizations in trade or industry which have been strong enough to put an end to competition.
    Religion, education, and the newspapers are ruled by groups and persons who are not representative of public opinion, while men of science and letters, and a number of other, workers in the arts of peace, which have so far had a free and natural development, are experiencing the effects of this massing of power.
    Governments and the great organizations of industry and banking, as we now see them, were not designed to have such powers; their growth was the outcome of the needs of earlier times.
    Under the new conditions, men have the feeling that they are less safe and there is an increase in the wrong or cruel use of authority; we become less free, specially in thought and in public talk. By slow degrees those badly-working Governments and controls are limiting that free use of the mind which keeps men happy and able to do their work well.
    By acting quickly and secretly, controlling organizations are for a time in a position to get things done at the price of a deep and ever more serious undermining of the structure of a good society.
    When men and nations no longer have the feeling that they are free and responsible, they first let themselves be crushed by their rulers and then give way to violent outbursts against law and order. Belief in a good future and the power to make balanced decisions give place to loss of self-control, loss of interest, and work of poor quality.
    Everywhere war becomes more serious in its effects and the grip of the money-makers becomes stronger, so that those very same increases of power and chances of further development which have given men the idea of an unlimited future, with more than enough of the good things of the earth for all, may go under again, possibly for ever, in a violent destruction of society ending all hope of better things.
    It becomes clear that this process will only be stopped by a new order of society, stretching to the ends of the earth, in which political, trade, and business interests are united for a common purpose.
    All men would do well to give attention to the history of the nations of the West.
    In the past, whenever it has been necessary to put power into the hands of one man or a small group of men, it has been the way of what are named the Democratic or Parliamentary countries make once again a strong and clear statement or Declaration of the rights of man.
    Never before has the need for such a Declaration been so important as at present.
    We of the Parliamentary countries are clear that an organization of society based on control by all in the interests of all is necessary and will come about, but, as in the past, we put forward that belief together with a Declaration of Rights, so that as the outcome of the great changes now taking place we may get not an attempt made in the dark to put things straight, but a reasoned design for the future, worked out in the full light of day.
    To that instrument then, which has been marked out by history for the purpose, a Declaration of Rights, we now come back once more, but on a scale which will take in all the countries of the earth.

    The word ‘man’ in this Declaration is used for every living person, young or old, male or female.
    Every man is a part-owner of all the goods and natural materials, and of the powers, inventions, and chances of development which have come down to us from the men of earlier times.
    Inside the limits of what there is for distribution, all men of every sort or color, whatever their beliefs or opinions, have the right to the food, cover, and medical care needed for the full development of mind and body from birth to death. However different and unequal their qualities may be, all men are to be looked on as completely equal in the eyes of the law, and as having an equal right to the respect of other men.

    The right and natural persons to be responsible for those who are not old enough to take care of themselves are their fathers and mothers.
    Where it is not possible for this care, or any part of it, to be given, society, taking into account the family conditions of the boy or girl, will be responsible for their safe-keeping by other persons.

    It is the business of every man not only to have respect for the rights of all other men in every part of the earth, but to give those rights his support and take steps to put them into effect.
    In addition, it is his business to do his part of any necessary work, which the rewards in operation in a free society do not take into account, so as to make certain that such work gets done.
    It is only by taking part in such work that a man is able to make clear his right to a place in society.
    No man is to be forced to undertake military or other work which is against his sense of right and wrong, but he who does no work whatever for society will be without political rights and under the control of others.

    It is the business of society to give every man enough education to make him of as much use to others, as interested in his work, and as free as his powers make it possible for him to be; to put all knowledge before him; and to let him have whatever special education may be needed to give him the same chance as others for the development of his special powers as an instrument for helping his brother-men. The authorities are to see that lie is able to get quickly and readily at all facts necessary for forming an opinion on current questions and events.

    Every man will have the right to be quite free in talking and writing, in discussion, in joining with others, and in religion.

    So long as the needs of society are taken care of, a man may freely take up any work which is not against the law, and get payment in relation to the value of his work to society or to the desire of any private person or persons for his produce, his acts, or his further work.
    He is to get payment for his work, and may make suggestions about the sort of work which, in his opinion, he is able to do.
    A man may get profit from work done by himself. He may get payment for transporting, or giving news about, goods to others. But he may not do business so that he gets payment or profit through ‘speculation’ —- that is to say, not for work of any sort but simply because he has come between the worker or workers and those others who are in need of what the workers do or make.

    In using his private property, if it is his by law, a man has the right to be kept safe from violent acts public or private; what is his may not be taken away from him, and he may not be forced, by fear or in any other way, to give it up.

    A man may go freely about the earth, if he makes all the necessary payments himself.
    But only such persons as have been given authority by the law may go without the owner's approval into a private house or into any more or less limited space which has been shut off for his use. So long as in moving about he does not go on to the private property of any other man, and does not do any sort of damage to what is not his or make it of less use, and does not seriously get in the way of others, he may come and go anywhere, by land, air, or water, over any sort of country, mountain, waste land, river, inland water, or sea, and all the wide spaces of this, his earth.

    If a man has not been said by a medical authority to be a danger to himself or to others through not being right in his mind—-and any such statement will have to be supported by another authority after not more than seven days and then be looked into at least once a year-— he is not to be kept under control for more than twenty-four hours without hearing what he has done which, in the eyes of the authorities, is against the law, and is not to be sent back to prison while the facts are further looked into for more than eight days without his agreement, or kept in prison for more than three months without being judged.
    Before he is judged, he is to be given a statement in writing of what will be said against him, in time to make use of it.
    At the end of three months, if he has not been judged by the normal process of law and given punishment or made free, he is to go free.
    No man may be judged more than once for the same act.
    Though the opinions which others have of any man may be given freely, he will have the necessary power of answering or going to law about any false statement which may be the cause of pain or damage to him.
    Secret records, or ‘dossiers,’ may not be taken into account in law.
    Such record is only a note for the use of the authorities; it is not to be used in law if a public statement is not made of the facts on which it is based.

    No man is to be made to undergo any operation on, or damage his body without his agreement freely given, or to be attacked or controlled by force when he himself is not being violent against others, or to be given punishment in the form of pain, by blows or any other physical act
    No man is to be made to undergo pain of mind greater than that caused by being in prison, or to be put in any prison which is dirty or has been made unhealthy by animals, disease, or any other cause, or to be put into the company of persons with body-animals or diseases which he may get from them.
    But it if he himself has a disease of this sort, so that he is a danger to others, he may be made clean or free from it, or be put in a separate place, or controlled so far as may be necessary to keep others safe from him.
    It is clear that no one may be given punishment by the selection of others (as ‘hostages’), by their being put in prison, or by any sort of act against them.

    Society is based on the rights named in this Declaration; they may not be given or taken away.
    In questions of everyday control, or those about which there is general agreement, but in no others, it is clearly necessary for certain of these rights to be limited.
    (For example, in such questions of general agreement as the rule of the road or laws against the making of false money, or in such questions of control as the organization of town and country building, or public hygiene.)
    No man or group in society is to be forced to keep any law of this sort if it has not been made openly by a decision of the greater number of those interested or by the greater number of their representatives publicly sent to take their place in a body made responsible by law for government.
    These representatives are to be the highest authority responsible for all laws made by organizations under their control and for detailed rulings on how the laws are to be given effect.
    In questions of general agreement and decisions taken in the interests of any group or nation, men are to be ruled by the views of the greater number as fixed by the system of representative government, which gives effect to the desires of the different persons who make up a society. All laws are to be open to public discussion, and may be changed or put an end to by a representative government.
    No international or other agreements may be made secretly in the name of any nation or nations or other groups of men with a common government.
    Those responsible for making laws in a free society are all the men who make up that society, and because existence is handed on to new bodies of men and never comes to an end, no one body may give up or give away the power of making and changing laws, or any part of this power; such power now being necessary to man's well-being for all time.