C. K. OGDEN : A Collective Memoir
PART C : THE INVENTION OF BASIC ENGLISH
Basic English and Its Value for Science
Paper read in Basic English before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Manchester, 1962
In the early days of Basic English, forty years back, and for quite a long time after, any paper about it had to make a start by putting forward the arguments for English as an international language. Today there is no need for me to go into all that, certainly not before this Association. The great headway made by English in the last twenty-five or thirty years makes the old arguments for made-up languages, the old competition among the natural languages, seem like long-dead history. For better or worse, English has so far outdistanced other tongues in its distribution that, it seems to me at least, I may take it that the selection of English in some form as the lingua franca of the future is now a fait accompli, and go straight on to the arguments for Basic itself.
Basic English has two purposes. It is put forward (a) as a system of teaching English quickly and well, and (b) as a form of English complete in itself, which will do everything needed of an international language at an everyday level. Before I go on to the special question as to how far, on its international side, it may be of value to science, it is necessary to say something about the language itself and how it came into being.
Basic English was produced by the late C. K. Ogden as an outgrowth of his work on the philosophy of language with I. A. Richards, the fruit of which was their book The Meaning of Meaning. The idea for Basic came specially from the part of the book on "definition", in working out which they made the discover that "the same words kept coming into the definitions of every sort of word, from 'mouse' to 'beauty'." This gave Ogden the suggestion that a form of English might be possible with a small number of words covering a field wide enough for the selection to be able to do the work of a complete simple language. "It seemed that two or three hundred words had in them, in theory, the seeds of all ideas. . . . But a language of that size would not be simple or smooth enough1 to seem like a natural language. What had to be done was, while keeping the number of words as small as possible in the interests of quick learning (under 1,000, Ogden was certain), to get a selection which would make it possible not only to say everything necessary for everyday living, but at the same time to say it in good, if simple, English.
Ogden put his hand to the plough. Even before this he had been deeply interested in the question of an international language, and had a wide knowledge of earlier writings in the field—Bacon, Leibnitz, Horne Tooke, and so on. But it was Jeremy Bentham whose ideas, seen in the new light produced by The Meaning of Meaning, were of the greatest help to him. “It was an observation of Bentham’s about English ‘verbs’ which gave Ogden the idea that most of them might be cut out [of the language] without loss to the sense”2 -- most important point in the new system. So changed was Ogden's outlook on these words, that he was able to say, when he had done forming his word-list, that Basic “had no verbs”. In fact, it has 18 words which in English would be given that name, but these are of such a special kind that, to make that clear, he gave them the name of “operation words”.
What he had done was to make the discovery that all other English verbs might be covered by those representative of the simplest physical acts — come and go, give and get, put and take, and so on—which, used with “prepositions” (or, as Ogden in his attempt to get back to the bases of language was quick to see, “names of directions”) were able to do the work, and that in good English, of all verbs of more complex sense. For example, to “enter” a room is only to go into it, to “remove” something from
a drawer is only to take it out of it, to “ascend” a mountain is only to go up it, and so on. There were only 10 of these first-level names of physical operations, but Ogden came to see that there were five other “verbal” words it would be impossible to do without : the necessary be, with its equally necessary opposite seem ; another word naming not an act but a condition, have ; and the two “auxiliary verbs” may and will, without which natural English would be quite impossible. With these he put, in addition, to make things smoother, three greatly to be desired “second-level” names of operations, say, see and send.
I have taken up this point in full because it is this property of being an “analytical language”, that is, of having a tendency to get complex ideas broken up and put into simple words, which makes it possible for such a small number of words in English to have so wide a range. However full of complex and beautiful words, and words of the most delicate shades of sense, English may be—and it is noted for this—there is all the time an opposite tendency at work, the tendency to go down to the roots of the language, to get any idea taken back to its starting-point in the most straightforward physical experience. There are other analytical languages, it is true, and of these Chinese, if there were not such a number of other things about it which put it out of the running for international use, might have come into competition with English on this point. But in no other of the important languages would such a limited word-list as that of Basic English have so much covering power.
In the end the list came to 850 words, 400 general or “abstract” nouns (“names of things”), 200 “picturable” ones, 150 “adjectives” (“quality words”), and 100 words from other groups, taking in, in addition to the operation fords and the names of directions, the necessary “conjunctions” (“joining words”) and such “adverbs” as it seemed specially hard to do without
The selection of the words was made by Ogden's “Panoptic” system, by which the senses of all words having to do with a certain thing were mapped out in relation to one another and to other words, to see which would be of the greatest use. It was, however, not only a question of how much work a word would do, but, other things being equal, of how simple it was to the eye and ear, how readily united with others to make complex words and word-groups of clear sense, how simple in operation.
The fact that the “grammar” of English ii in the highest degree simple and elastic is another of the strong points on its aid in the competition with other languages for international use. Ogden made the very most of this property. He put no violent hands on English grammar, but the tendency of the language itself to do without more and more of it gave him the chance of dropping such forms and structures as have for the most part by now been completely dropped by the man in the street—or even, sometimes, by everyone but the teachers of grammar. So Basic is happily unconscious of the “subjunctive”, and makes little or nothing of such right uses as “Whom did you see ?” and “It is I”, or of the different effects of “shall” and “will”. But, given these small points, it keeps to the rules, and, as I am hoping you will see from this paper (which is all in Basic), it does not seem very different from full English. A bit limited, no doubt, a bit unornamented. Basic gives little chance for flights of language, for saying things beautifully and movingly. That is not its business, But it is clear and simple, and there is nothing “pidgin” about it, nothing which goes against English rules, so that the learner has no errors to overcome if at any time he goes on to full English. If this is not the most important property of Basic as an International Language for workers in science, it is one which gives it great attraction.
The great thing about Basic as an international language, together with the fact that anything may be said in it, is the fact that a knowledge of it may be got with so little trouble and so quickly. It is not possible for me to take up in detail here all the reasons for this. There is the chief point that in a language with so small a number of words the old and noted troubles of the learner with our “spelling” and word-order become of little account. There are the number of ways in which the range of the word-list is increased by developments so simple as to give no pain; there is the care which has been taken not only in the selection of the material but in the order in which it is put before the learner; there is the great use made of special pictures and other instruments for helping to make words and uses clear; there is the smaller point that Basic has no words having the same sound or form but different senses. The outcome of all this is that a learner of some education in his natural language will be able, after being trained on Basic lines, to make himself clear in simple English in at most two to three months, and naturally he will have a reading knowledge of it even more quickly.
Coming to the special need of science for an international language, in no field is this need clearer, more important, or more frequently voiced. Science itself has, for a very long time, been working more or less consciously to this end. Hundreds of science words are the same in all the chief languages of Europe, or at
least so near in form as to give no trouble. These are the newer
words, most of which have come into use in the past hundred
years or so, and have been taken up by the language, as the ideas and discoveries of which they are representative have been taken up by the thought, of country after country. This naturally makes the work of an international language much simpler, but it does not make the need for one any less. It is not enough to have a common list of high-level words, however long. There has to be a common framework for their operation; and in addition there are the older science words -— frequently the key-words for later developments -— which are different in every country.
For purposes of science the Basic framework is naturally the same as that for everyday use, of which we have given an account. It is quite possible for science writings for the common reader to be put into the words of general Basic. At that level, if special science words are necessary, they are marked out by special print and made clear as they come in, generally in footnotes. But in writings designed for those trained in Science, the word-list is increased by another 100 words covering the general language of science, and 50 more for the needs of any special branch. For writing or reading Biology, for example, it will be necessary to have a knowledge of 1,000 (850+150) English words.
As we have said, for the expert there are, in addition, hundreds of words in English which are international and may be used more or less freely. At this level, Basic is, in effect, an instrument by which special word-lists may be put into operation.
The General Science list has two chief purposes. The first is to make the addition of certain general words (names of processes, conditions, and so on) which, though it is possible to do without them for everyday purposes, are so much used in science that to have to keep giving their senses in other words would be a great trouble and waste of space—a very important point from a printing point of view. The greatest argument for having these words is that they put common ideas in a short form, but there is, furthermore, the point that some attention has to be given to what the man of science is used to. Though he may have little interest in the details important to the man of letters, he has a certain respect for the normal way of saying things, and would not readily give
his support to a language which seemed markedly strange and forced. The second purpose of this list is to take in words which are common to two or more sciences, so that they do not have to be put into more than one list.
The General Science list by itself, without the addition of any special science lists, has a certain use for writings at an in-between level, such as histories of science for schools or reading-material for the Basic learner who is going on to wider English.
This system has long been tested in use. It was in 1931 that it was first put forward in a book named Basic English Applied : Science, which gave the earliest science word-lists and examples of Basic writing from Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology. This book was done over and put out again in 1942, under the name of Basic for Science, with some changes in the lists and the addition of much new material. It is still the general guide-book to the use of Basic for Science, having in it, as well as the lists for General Science, Physics-Chemistry,
Mathematics-Mechanics, Geology, and Biology, the senses of all the words given in them made clear in Basic, and a list of about 750 international science words.
In the years between and after, came two more key-books -- Basic for Economics by L. W. Lockhart in 1933, Basic for Geology by P. M. Rouiter in 1937—and a man of science reading-books of all sorts, such as Science and Well-Being and The Outlook of Science (two selections from J. B. S. Haldane), Living Things by J. W. N. Sullivan, Inventions and their Uses in Science Today and The Sea and its Living Things by H. Stafford Hatfield, The Growth of Science by A. P. Roasiter, and The Roots of Science by J. A. Lauwerys, to give only a small number of them. Of these, two, Inventions and The Growth of Science, did so well as to be put out in paper covers by Penguin Books.
Some years before the war, a Swiss science Journal, Las Annoles
Gubéhard-Siverine, printing papers in four or five European languages, had the bright idea of putting at the end of every paper a short outline in Basic English. This was looked on with approval by the readers and became a regular addition, giving us at the Orthological Institute much interesting experience in writing science. Unhappily, this was stopped by the war.
At about that time, we made a start on a Science Dictionary in which the senses of all the words were to be made clear in Basic English—without even the help of any of the science lists. The idea was to get out a book at as low a price as possible for the use of those taking their first steps in science without much knowledge of English, or for the English general reader, which was designed to take in a wide range of sciences up to a quite high level. It was a hard test for Basic, and at first it was uncertain how far it would be possible to do anything of value. But the undertaking went surprisingly well, and though for some years work on it had to be stopped, on account of the war and other things, the Basic Science Dictionary is now, after 20 years, in the last stages of printing. It is to be put out in the fall of 1964 by Evans Brothers, and will, I am certain, be of great use in its field.3
Before I make an end, there is one point more which, though it has not to do with the international value of Basic, has a place in any discussion of Basic in relation to science. It is the fact that Basic is of great help in doing away with unclear writing, and, what is more, with unclear thought. In the words of the Ministry of Education's little book No. 26, Language (H.M.S.O. reprint 1961) : “One of the characteristics of Basic is frequently a certain clarity of tone and simplicity or limpidity of structure. Basic compels the writer to think out his subject-matter analytically before committing his thoughts to paper. . . .”
It is not only men of science in different countries who have trouble in reading one another's work. In 1933, when Basic was first coming into the picture, the British Association was shocked by the discovery that the language of one group of experts in a certain branch of Geology made very little sense to another group
-- equally of experts. It was then pointed out that the bit of writing in question might quite readily be turned into simple, straightforward prose, clear to everyone, by putting it into Basic English. No doubt in the years between much has been done to overcome the troubles and divisions caused in certain sciences by there being no fixed general agreement about names, and by the unnecessary number of new words all the time coming into use. But there is still a tendency that way—as you will see from Professor Sargant Florence's paper—and it probably ii still true, as a man of science said in 1938, that “a very strong argument for the use of Basic in science is the fact that it would make necessary the clearing up of this condition”.
1 . “Recollections of C. K. Ogden” by I. A. Richards. Encounter, September 1957.
2 . Ibid.
3 . It was published with a foreword by Lord Zuckerman in the spring of 1965 and gives the senses of more than 25,000 words and phrases taken from all the major sciences including geography, anthropology and psychology. P.S.F.
Basic English for the Social Sciences
Paper read in Basic English before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Manchester, 1962
P. Sargant Florence
A discussion of the British Association of the value of Basic English for the Social Sciences is of special interest for two reasons. first, because there are now such a number of Divisions in the programme which have to do with the Social Sciences (E, Geography ; F, Economics ; H, Anthropology ; J, Psychology ; L, Education ; and N, Sociology) ; and second, because of some past history.
While the last war was on, two committees of the Association were formed. One, on Post-War University Education, made its statements in 1942 ; the other, on Scientific Research on Human Institutions, did so in 1943. The second committee, of which I was Chairman, went with great care into the question of the range of the Social Sciences and their relations to the Natural Sciences. The first Committee, of which I was a member, made suggestions for "forwarding the attempt to get an international language as an instrument for the exchange of knowledge and opinion". It was, in fact, hoping to go into the question "Is Basic English right for this purpose, and if not, what other system is better ?" But the university groups who were to do the detailed work were broken up because of the war, and no statement was produced. I am attempting here, after all this time, to make up for this loss.
IS BASIC ENGLISH ABLE TO DO WHAT IS NEEDED ?
The Needs of the Social Sciences ("Demand")
Some idea of the words which will be needed for the Social Sciences may be got by looking at the "Indexes" given at the back of teaching-books in that field ad noting how frequently the different words are importantly used. Those listed for special attention (generally by putting the page numbers in black print) in the greatest number of places will almost certainly be key-words of the science in question.
For Economics, let us take Cairncross's Introduction to Economics. Of the words listed in its Index, fourteen are used in eight or more different places in the book : money (18 places), cost and margin(al) (17 each), wages (16), unemployment and capital (15), profit (12), firm, bank, monopoly, and trade (11), rent and market (9), and price (8).
For Sociology, I will take MacIver and Page's Society. Here again, fourteen of the words listed in the Index are used in eight or more different places : class (28), culture or cultural (26), the State (20), the family (18), society. (17), association and environment. (16), community. (15), technology. (14), city or town. (12), heredity. (11), attitude and custom (10), and authority (8).
It is clear from this that the chief interests of the two most important branches of Social Science are very different, and it is probable that a number of the key-words needed by one of the two will not be needed by the other. Economics is interested chiefly in money in exchange for things, and in money payments in exchange for work done, etc. for example, in "cost", "wages", "profit", "rent", and, further, in the relation of man to the work he does for a living, or to the fact of their being no such work for him -- "unemployment". Sociology, on the other hand, is interested in groups of persons -- "class", "the State", "the family", "associations", "communities", "the city". The same thing may well be true of other branches, so that, for example, Political Science, Anthropology, Demography, Social Psychology, will probably all have need of special key-words.
At the same time, when all the Social Sciences are taken into account, it will be seen that certain ideas are common to all, or most, of them. Among the words which were noted as most widely used in Economics, for example, were "firm", "bank", and "market", all of them representative of groups of persons -- the chief interest of Sociology. Among the most important in Sociology were "technology" (a relation of man to his work), "attitude" (which generally comes to mind in connection with Psychology), "the State" and "authority" (the material of Political Science), "culture" (the special interest of Anthropology), "heredity" (clearly important in Social Biology), and "environment" (a key word in relation to the Geography of man in Ecology).
Needs which the Social Sciences have in common
Key-words used in common by the Social Sciences are, in fact, most important. Till the question has been gone into more deeply, it is not possible to be certain which these are. However, after looking at representative works, not only in Economics and Sociology but in Political Science (specially Professor Sir George Catlin's Systematic Politics), I put forward as a suggestion 102 words (List A, overleaf), all names of general things, which are commonly used, and may be necessary as key-word, in most, if not all, of the Social Sciences. Among them are all the 28 words which were earlier noted as having a wide use in Economics or Sociology.
Going from the most general to the most special, the Social Sciences have need of :
(a) Certain words common to all exchange of thought between men, and to all teaching.
How far are these needs covered by the Basic English Word List, with its 100 words for "operations", 150 for qualities (50 of which are "opposites"), and 600 names of things (400 of them general and 200 "pictured") ?
(b) Certain words common to all sciences.
(c) Words for certain ideas common to all the Social Sciences, as in List A.
(d) Words for certain idea special to the different branches of Social Science.
What is given by Basic English ? ("The Supply")
We have no need to take into account the words in group (a), common to all uses of language. Our business is with the three less general sorts of words, (b), (c), and (d).
List B, on page 147, gives word for general things and for qualities taken from the Basic Word List which are much used in all science. They do not come into our List A because, though they are important for the Social Sciences, their use is not special to them.
LIST A . WORDS NEEDED BY THE SOCIAL SCIENCES GENERALLY
able equal P person
act expert plant
adjustment family population x
agreement P firm * E position
apparatus force power P
association * free P price E
attitudes * government P private P
authority P group process
bank E growth profit E
behavior habit x property E
belief heredity * public P
birth history punishment P
body impulse reason
business E incentive * rent x
capital * industry representative P
chief integration * security x P
class * invention selection P
committee P judge P separate
common knowledge society
community * land special
competition E law P standardization *
complex margin x State *
concentration * P market E structure * P
control P meeting P technology *
custom * mixed top
death money E town
decentralization* P monopoly x trade
decision P move unemployment *
desire need use
discussion operation value E
distribution order P wages * E
division organization P will * P
environment * work
* Not given in the general or any special Basic List.
x Given in the Basic Special List for Economics
E Needed specially by Economics
P Need specially by Political Science.
LIST B . WORDS FOR GENERAL THINGS AND QUALITIES FROM THE BASIC ENGLISH WORD-LIST IMPORTANT FOR, BUT NOT SPECIAL TO THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
amount effect possible/certain space
argument experience probable stage
cause frequent quality system
chance full rate tendency
change general/special relation test
comparison growth same/different theory
complex/simple level scale time
condition limit science true/false
connection measure side unit
curve place sign
In addition, it has to be kept in mind that, with the common use in English -- as, in fact, in all languages -- of names of material things in naming "fictions" or the relations between them (the process of "metaphor"), a number of Basic English words may be used not only in their root senses but in expansions of these senses covering ideas at a more general level. In List C we now give those which are readily seen to have this value.
LIST C . NAMES OF PICTURED THINGS FROM THE BASIC ENGLISH WORD LIST WHICH ARE OF USE FOR COVERING IDEAS AT A GENERAL LEVEL IN THE SOCIAL (AND OTHER) SCIENCES
arm engine leg spring
box face line stick
branch floor map store
bridge foot ring thread
chain frame root town
circle head school train
cushion key seed tree
The words in the general Basic Word List which may well be needed as key-words common to all the Social Sciences are those without a star in List A. The starred words in that list are not in the general Basic Word Lst, and these, or others covering more or less the same ideas, will probably be needed as additions for the Social Sciences. In C. K. Ogden's Basic for Science, which has to do with the Natural Sciences, the Basic Word List is increased by the addition of another list of 100 words covering the general language of science. A further 50 words will, it is said, be enough for the needs of any special branch, and a number of these special lists of 50 (for Physics and Chemistry, for Mathematics and Mechanics, for Geology, and for Biology) are given. The same thing has to be done for the Social Sciences -- that is, the addition of a list of probably 100 further words for these sciences generally, and then of shorter lists of not more than 50 for the special branches.
Making up the Balance
How far are the needs of the Social Sciences covered by the words of the general Basic English List ? The answer is "not quite". In List A, starred words needed by the Social Sciences are not part of general Basic, and, on top of this, further words may be needed by special branches. Special lists have to be made up to give us what is not there.
In 1933, Miss Leonora Lockhart, C. K. Ogden's chief helper in the development of Basic English, after discussion with me, made out such a special list of 50 words for Economics. This list (which there is no need to give in full here) was printed at the front of a small book named Basic for Economics, in which Miss Lockhart put into Basic examples of material taken, without special selection, from Professor Alfred Marshall, Professor Edwin Cannan, F. Lavington, Lord Stamp, and others -- among them, Malthus. In doing this we were pleased to make the discovery that a smaller number of special words were needed by Economics than had seemed probable, because a great number of Economics words were present in the general Basic List. for example, all the unstarred words marked "E" in List A and all those in List D, words less common to the Social Sciences and more special to Economics.
LIST D . NAMES OF GENERAL THINGS AND QUALITIES FROM THE GENERAL BASIC ENGLISH WORD LIST WHICH ARE SPECIALLY IMPORTANT FOR ECONOMICS IN ADDITION TO THE WORDS MARKED IN "E" IN LIST A.
account development loss produce
balance doubt manager reward
cheap exchange offer servant
company industry owner tax
credit interest payment transport
debt land plant waste
As more writing on Economics and other Social Sciences is attempted in Basic English, it may be that more special words than the 50 in Basic English for Economics will be needed. Those marked "E" in List A are possible additions, though some of these might be charged for others of more or less the same sense (habit taking the place of custom, for example), or be done without, because a word, or two or more words, from the general Basic Word List may be made to do what is necessary (so, integration might possibly be covered by mixed processes, produce, or operation. -- In fact, "process mix", "produce mix", "operations mix", are now in wide use). Moreover, of the 50 special Economics words give by Miss Lockhart, at least nine are words used generally in science : accident, average, correlation, efficiency, experiment, factor, index, statistics, stimulus. If, as for the Natural Sciences, a general list of 100 words is made for all the Social Sciences, a further list of 50 words will probably be enough for the special needs of any one of these sciences. That is to say, for any one of them, in addition to the 850 words in the general Basic English Word List, there would be the 100 words of the Social Sciences list and 50 in a special list for the science in question. The 20 starred words in List A, which are not at present in any Basic English word-list, may be of use in starting the common Social Sciences list. It will be noted, by the way, that most of the words in List A which are marked "E" (for Economics) or "P" (for Political Science) are not starred and not in the general Basic List.
IS BASIC ENGLISH ABLE TO MAKE IDEAS CLEAR ?
This question is given special point by writing on Sociology as it is produced today in America. Here is an example from an early page of The Social System by Professor Talcott Parsons, the value of whose work in the Social Sciences is undoubted, and has had a great effect on other workers in this field.1
An element of a shared symbolic system which serves as a criterion or standard for selection among the alternatives of orientation which are intrinsically open in a situation may be called a value.
With all these hard words and strange uses, there is little hope that the common reader will be able to make out the sense of what is being said here -- though it is, after all, more important for him, if he is to do his part in society and government, to have a good knowledge of the Social Sciences than of the Natural Sciences.
In one sense, "motivation" consists in orientation to improvement of the gratification-deprivation balance of the actor. But since action without cognitive and evaluative components in its orientation is inconceivable within the action frame of reference, the term motivation will here be used to include all three aspects, not only the cathectic. But from this motivational orientation aspect of the totality of action, it is, in view of the role of symbolic systems, necessary to distinguish a "value-orientation" aspect. This aspect concerns, not the meaning of the expected state of affairs to the actor in terms of his gratification-deprivation balance but the content of the selective standards themselves. The concept of value-orientation is this sense is thus the logical device for formulation one central aspect of the articulation of cultural traditions into the action system.
It follows from the derivation of normative orientation and the role of values in action as stated above, that all values involve what may be called a social reference.
I am not attempting to put this example into Basic English. For one thing, the apparatus of special word-lists for the purpose is not ready ; and, for another, it is almost impossible to be quite certain of the sense of some of the words and word-groups used in it. What is certain is that some training in the use of Basic English would at least make a writer conscious of the need to take care about his language, and, even if he did not keep his writing inside the limits of Basic, would give him an instrument for testing how far what he is saying is going to make clear to his readers what he has in mind.
As was pointed out by Miss Lockhart,2 there is another trouble, the very opposite of "jargon" (the use of new and strange words), which keeps writing from being clear. That is, the use in science discussions of common words which have a number of different senses. Here the answer clearly is to keep such words out of he Basic lists -- general and special. The word "meaning" (for which 16 possible "meanings" were listed by Ogden and Richards in their book The Meaning of Meanings) is one of a number of such words having a tendency to make thought unclear which are, in fact, happily kept out of Basic English. I will take three examples.
(1) "Principle". The General Basic Dictionary gives three senses for this word : "General law of science ; guiding rule of right behaviour ; general idea or fact on which some system is based." Of these three senses, the second has to do with Ethics, not science, and for the first "law" is a better and more clear-cut word. But clearly different though these three may seem when looked at without feeling, in the heat of discussion, even in science, much unnecessary trouble and argument may be caused through the use of the word "principle."
So far we have been talking about words which have a number of different senses (such as "meaning", with its 16 senses or "meanings"), which words, in our view, Basic is right to keep out. On the other hand, there is the position, less common but equally a cause of trouble, in which the same thing or relation is named by a number of different words. In writing The Statistical Method in Economics and Political Science, and specially in attempting to make clear tendencies and relations in Statistics, I was troubled by having a number of names for the same relation. So, early in the book, in the discussion on "the Vocabulary of Relations Measurement", I was forced to make rules pinning certain words down to certain relations, so that one sort of relation had one, and only one, name. Without this clear and fixed connection between the sort of relation and the word used for it, it would have been hard for the reader to take in the sense. This is specially true in the Social Sciences, where everyday words are frequently used. Let me give an example.
(2) "Function". In addition to other senses, The General Basic Dictionary gives : "special work, operation, or purpose of a thing ; person's special work", and even from this short statement we may see the very different senses in which the word may be taken. "Purpose" generally has to do with the outside acts of, say, an organization ; "operation" with its inner working. In the interest of clear thought, it is much better for the talker or writer to be forced to get straight about which sense of "function" he has in mind -- and when he does, Basic gives him "purpose" on the one hand and "operation" on the other.
(3) "Democracy". for this, The General Basic Dictionary has two senses : 1. "Representative or other form of government by the public" ; and 2. "a society i which all men are looked on as equal". And I am not certain that there are not, in addition, other senses, such as "government not necessarily by, but for, the public". It is wise for science to keep the word out.
All societies seem to have three sorts of quality, which, in my Statistical Method, were named their transactions (in talking of their outside relations), their procedure (in talking of their inner operations), and their structure. Now, every one of these qualities, as I said in my book, "has been given as great a number of names as a royal price".) The transaction of a society is named, in addition, its field, sphere, province, domain, scope, function, powers, objects, aim, end, ideal and work. The procedure may be talked of as its working, powers, function, or work, in addition to its action, mechanism, machinery, modus, operandi and so on. The structure has had a smaller number of names pinned to it, but four others come readily to mind : composition, substance, organisation, form.
It would be a great help i keeping ideas clear if only one name was used for any one of these qualities. Among Basic words, "structure" is clearly the best for the third, and possibly "field", or, as we said before, "purpose" for the first (the outer relations)3 and"process" or "operation" for the second (the inner workings). In this way, Basic English may be of help not only in the exchange of ideas but -- and possibly of even greater help -- in the process of thought itself.
1 . This quotation is not in Basic. P.S. F.
2 . Basic for Economics, Psyche Miniatures, pp 9-12.
3 . "Area" has been coming into use recently. P.S.F.