OGDEN's BASIC ENGLISH
A Path Through this Large Website
COPYRIGHT, 2007, BY
THE BASIC ENGLISH INSTITUTE
If one were to take the 25,000 word Oxford Pocket English Dictionary and take away the words with the same senses of our overly full language and take away the words that are able to be said by putting together simpler words, we see that 90% of the ideas in that dictionary are able to be done with only 850 words. The shorter word-list makes the work to simpler to learn his letters and the ways of saying things that are not regular. The rules of using words are the same as in full English so that the Basic user is able to talk in good, but simple, English.
The name of this simple language is Basic English, the developer is Charles K. Ogden, and was given in 1930 with the book : Basic English: A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar. He started the Orthological Institute to develop the ways for teaching Basic English. His most noted working friend, I.A. Richards, started work in the Orient, which uses the Basic ways to this day.
The purposes of Ogden is made clear in the name of his book, Basic English: International Second Language. English is the most widely distributed language, it is the language of international business, and is a language of simple structure. A learner from west Europe will be able to learn the smaller language in 60 hours, that is to say, a good learner giving three hours of a night school, is able to learn the words, ways of saying, and special uses in a month.
This allows any immigrant to communicate in perfectly good
English with any native speaker of English.
There is no need for the population to "learn about and welcome" immigrants where the immigrant can fit themselves right into
the mainstream of society. There is no need for a dual language
in any English speaking country, no multilingual government forms.
There is no pretense of literary excellence. Just good communication.
Note : The typical ESL (English as a Second Language) class strives for cultural exchange and a pleasant and personal learning environment. This is different goal that learning simply learning the language
and the significant amount of class time spent in pleasantries should not be charged to the time required to learning English by either the learner or by the taxpayer.
Of special interest to the modern world without borders, Basic English provides a jump-start to English speaking life and a world language, integration into
learning, and assumlation into a new life: Basic English is not the end-point, but the beginning.
The following are the author's notes to himself of what to include in a path though Ogden's Basic English. It will be released as parts are completed as a pathway through this large website.
Everything that needs to be said about Basic has been said, but is no longer readily available. The truth is Libraries are penalized by retenion of old books. Much if our goal is to provide a
start of the clock for Basic Englsh by 85 years.l
For a decade the Ogden web site has attempted to find and display the amazing work of Ogden and
the early generation of supporters. The quantity of material is so great that it all needs to be condensed into the essence
so that the interested party can discover the simple entirety in as brief a manner as possible.
As Ogden fit all of English onto one piece of paper, we will attempt to display the range of Basic topics into one place in logical order in a short book.
- What Basic English is: Ogden's format of a series of one paragraph/page discussions of many items is a good format. Can do no better than to repeat those principles, but up to date.
- History: Keep it short. Suffice to say it was gaining world wide support (with examples, numbers of publications) until the
government stepped in with the promise of funding, various interests made demands for a piece of the action, and it withered when the sponsoring Prime Minister and President left office.
- The System.
Basic is simple. Key for the book is to clearly define the goal, provision of an international second language -- critics jump to their own thoughts of what an ISL should be and complain of the differences -- And the logical sub goal - to teach an introduction to English that allows the learner to quickly master the language and participate in English where practice allows mastery and prepares the learner to go on to full English if desired.
The Rules. The Sentence Structure, The Words. Other
Nouns - names of things and ideas
Verbs and Prepositions make "Operators".
- The ABC's REF: The ABC's
- The Basic Words defined -- use The Basic Dictionary definitions -- not The Basic Words book
which included French, German, and attempts a complex pronunciation guide. Finesse the whole subject of pronunciation. Many TBD definitions are "As in Standard English" which says to use the whole range of meanings is available with that word. Other works are restrictive to primary definitions of the word. This avoids confusion and wasted learning timeThe explanations in Words are often by example sentences, which are only useful to native speakers. Some definitions are less than enlightening --down : opposite of UP, up : ; opposite of DOWN. (We take these to be "As in Standard English".) The reader should be advised that the computer aids section does not make such limitations because a computer cannot tell how to restrict senses.
- Examples -- update these. Ogden chose important contemporary examples that are now only of historic interest. Keep with the classics of international interest -- documents, literature. Select from readings.
Consider translating Preamble to Declaration, Constitution, Magna Charter, UN ; Select the Everyday examples that represent current living or, better, create new examples.
- Glossary and References -- Ogden, as all pioneers, created his own geometry that most often confuses the reader who comes into the subject with his own ideas. The idea of "operators", defined as a
verb plus preposition, must not be used to obscure the idea of a verb. Ogden introduced the idea of eliminating verbs and sharply differentiated ideas that are, in the real world, a blend -- many ideas take on noun, verb, and adjective roles -- name, action, and modifiers. To try to obscure this is to be pedantic. Our thoughts to the teacher will advise sequence -- nouns are often picturable, easily grasped. Making actions from nouns can come later -- because -- proper English verbs are very irregular and will create despair on those new to English.. Stick to the few that Ogden selected, only 16 to express all activity. These 16 adequately introduce the concept of being irregular in small bites -- and lets the learner get on with communicating, rather than conjugating.
- Special Wordlists
Basic addresses the working environment in which special words are used by the introduction of, "special word lists". Basic is really 1000 words. The Basic
850 are used in everyday life, plus 150 more addressed at two levels of interest and for work. The first is in a broad category of business,
science, or literature -- 100 additional words are introduced. The learner will be interested in learning one or more of the three. These are common enough words that reduce the circumlocutions required for reoccurring expressions in these area. Example:
business introduces -- supply (pick 3 words as examples), Science -- (3 words), and Literature (3 words). Then, because there are specialties within each of these broad areas that are likely to be required for employment. Within the physical sciences there are lists 50 words common to of Math and Mechanics, Physics and Chemistry, Biology, Geology, etc. The sciences were quick to recognize the value of standardization. The social sciences were slower to feel the need to restrict their vocabulary. Much money is made by consultants who package Basic with words considered essential to businesses for use across an international workforce where standardization of names and activities is clearly useful and often vital.
Basic was created by a genius skilled in international translation who saw the commonality of ideas and variety of language along with the simplicity in the basics of English at a time when the use of English was becoming internationally important. Since then his wisdom has been confirmed. The focus has shifted a bit from Cambridge to the northern Atlantic. Additionally, time has passed in a period of rapid social and technical change. Whereas the original lists
acknowledged horse, whip and carriage, the current world has television and internet. The words of general international usage were travel, hotel, restaurant items -- (3-words). Today we can add a great number of clearly international computer related terms -- (3 words). International words may be used freely in Basic without teaching, simply by listing our recognition of them. The original list was 100 words. To this may be added today's list of an as yet unlimited words.
There are two big constituents of a book on Basic English -- teachers and learners.
The mass of learners will be unable to read it. So teachers and administrators and the general public will be the target audience. Teachers want a specific outline to work from. We can provide suggestions and leave it to others to prepare a package of a complete daily lesson plan and visual aids.
- The Next Steps.
Many people tried to copy Ogden with their own ideas of the most valuable words. They compared their selection of up to 2000 words against Ogden's 850 to show their advantages. These overlooked that each learner of is expected to have a working vocabulary in excess of 1000 Basic words, the last 150 differing by interest groups, but important to the individual. The upstarts defeated themselves because the marvel of Ogden in that in only 850 words, the necessities for daily living are developed that allow quicker learning that 2000 words. An early participation in English speaking life accelerates learning. Confidence breeds usage, which, in turn, breeds confidence in a ever increasing cycle of value. The additional 150 are of particular interest to the life of the learner, these are absorbed with enthusiasm.
The Next Step is several steps.
The basic Basic is enriched by . . .
- First Addendum is the recognition of 150 names of common animal, foods, and plants without international usage. This list has not been found by this author, we can only guess at about a portion of them. Stay tuned to the web page First Addendum
as our guesses firm up or the original list is found by a reader.
- Supplemental 350 are words selected by Ogden's panoptic method but are
are lesser necessity, that is, they were cut from the final list. These are common words
that are useful to make the learner's thoughts flow more smoothly with fewer circumlocutions.
- Complex words, that is, compound words are two Basic words in their normal senses that are joined. Example: black + berry describes a particular sort of tasty fruit, the blackberry. However, a "butterfly" is not valid, because butter, a table fat, cannot be readily associated with a colorful, flying insect. As additional words are added to the learner's vocabulary, then more and more compound/complex words also come into his grasp..
- International words and computer/internet words may be freely used.
- Derivatives of basic are the suffixes -ed, -er, -ing, -ly, -s and the prefix un-, meaning "not". The advanced learner will be able to combine suffixes and
find that forms such as -edingly are possible -- (3 examples)
- Affixes . There are dozens of available prefix and suffix in full English. Basic teaches the most common and useful six forms. As the learner progresses beyond Basic, others will be added. We will suggest a few approved by others who have attempted simplified language.
- Verbs . Many name words (nouns) can be used to describe actions. The name hammer is for a tool. The verb "to hammer" is the act of using a hammer. The extension is natural when the learner has reached a suitable stage of understanding -- (3 examples: )
- Everyman's English is an expression of unfettered English that starts with Basic.
It was sponsored by Ivar Richards, an early supporter of Basic, and he feels free to expand upon it. In too many instances he carries this freedom to unrecognizable ends. Use of words must be recognizable to the Basic learner -- else he is lost. Everyman's contains examples such as "art" expanding to artifice, artificial, artificiality and "attempt" becoming tent, taunt, tentative. We consider this outside the expectation of the learner. And not necessary for everyday living or work. The expansions of Basic to the advanced learner should
- Simple English is Basic English with the addition of the most frequently used English words that are not already in the Basic vocabulary. These words are not necessary to communicate, but help make the learner's language flow more smoothly. We support Simple English as a suitable step after learning Basic. These are words that will be absorbed in the daily use of Basic with native speakers -- along with idiom. It is important to recognize that basic Basic and Next Step Basic come before the wider expansion to Simple English, in fact, we suspect that Simple need not, and should not, become part of a curriculum for learners able to practice with native speakers -- they will have already picked up the high frequency words.
That said, the teacher will be wise to introduce the non-Basic words "can" and "know" in the final period of study -- these are the only two words not included in the top 50 words in the daily vocabulary of native English speakers. Those top 50 words comprise 43% of all common English usage. The articles, A, AN and THE comprise the top 9%.
The full set of Basic words exceeds 75% of common English usage, the addition of "can" and "know" will only marginally, but usefully, expand this by half of a percentage point. Stress that these words are for understanding others and not for their usage, because other learners of pure Basic will not have command of these words and will not be able to understand you. This is a problem of adding any words to basic Basic ; Basic English is an international second language and others round the earth will not know the meaning of any additional, locally taught words. For listening purposes only, the technical difference between can, ability to do, and may, permission to do, may be explained, and the use of the noun can, from "tin can" in North American and note that the "tin" part is in use in the UK. To "know" is an easy contraction of the Basic expression of to have knowledge of. Final determination of
revealing these words depend on what is the goal of the learner and teacher, either Basic as an international second language that is restricted in vocabulary, or Basic as an introduction to full English in which the more usages learned the better.
- VOA Special English is a useful way to hear English spoken and learn pronunciation. It also provides an interesting and ongoing source of listening to retain the
learners attention. Voice of America grew out of the idea of Basic but diverges more significantly than needed.
VOA-SE consists of over 1,400 words and is oriented to providing international news. It has many more words than necessary, yet it is not complete for everyday living. If VOA-SE is to be used to supplement the Basic coursework, then some of the different words must be explained. (3 examples)
VOA-SE is available all the time on the internet. The listener no longer needs to tune into a distant shortwave radio station at specific times.
- Idiom. These are multiple word expressions to put forward a common idea. Ogden considered that learning idiom must take one half of the time devoted to the learning of Basic. We disagree, you may differ. We consider that multi-word expresses with obscure meanings is not required in speaking or writing. Listening or reading idiom is not different than for any other advanced portion of full English. Therefore the time to learn idiom, and perhaps, appear advanced and to be able to understand an occasional, casual usage of others, will take time that is be better devoted to learning and using the Basic words. However, if by idiom, we mean the multiple senses that can be found in a single word, then this is useful and necessary. The original meaning of a word often takes on related senses. (give three examples) Gaining competence and confidence in basic Basic will allow participation in local communications and local idioms may be learned by natural exchange.
- Proper Nouns. Capitalized words have a meaning across all languages and are not specific to any particular language, yet are parts of all language. Proper nouns, in the English spelling, are used in Basic. They are just a part of the world. The easy way to think of it is that all capitalized words may be used in Basic. -- George Washington; Washington, D.C.; Mount Washington; Washington Street; and so on.
- Helps -- spell check, translation. links.
A goal of the Basic English Institute has been to provide aids to the use of Basic. The imagined target audience is writers -- of articles, news, columns, pages, and scripts
-- so that they can continue to think and write in their accustomed was and then, without full training in Basic, translate their work to a world audience in Basic. Basic can allow a person to communicate their thoughts. However, to completely hear the thoughts of the author, the world must communicate back in Basic. Else the learner hears too much irregular. Fortunately, normal English actively uses relatively few words -- half of which will be familiar to the Basic learner. This is fine for common daily communication. However, higher thoughts will diverge as the accomplished author is proud to use his knowledge of vocabulary to paint shades of meaning. Lofty ideas that are not expressed in simple terms will go over the head of the Basic learner, just as it does escape understanding by the common person untrained in the author's area of interest.
- Reform of English
- Spelling Reform
- Regularizing Verbs
- Grammatical Reform
- Simple Wikionary is to be supported.
Simple Wiki is conflicted with various goals for uncertain audiences. Or is it directed to a multifaceted audience? One group suggests it
is for slow learners who need the limited wordage of Basic. Their argument is that there are
wikis in other languages with which natives speakers of each languages may seek information. Another says Simple Wiki is for children. We prefer to see it as an opportunity for learners, both non-native adults and for children of all sorts to enjoy an educational encyclopedia. We think the topic will determine the orientation of the wording.
- Artificial intelligence/Robotics. The Basic English Institute was formed to support
work in this area.
- Post Script. While hoping to achieve our various goals of explaining Basic English and
providing aid to users, supporters and people seeking, we want to fend off those few past criticisms of Basic before they can reappear, yet we must be careful to not overlook features that Ogden stressed that succeeded in avoiding criticisms; we don't want to introduce the appearance of problems that don't exist.
Universal criticism is the lack of verbs. This must be recognized as a teaching technique to allow the learner to command all the necessary actions fairly quickly, while progressing with learning usage. The result is adequate for daily living in a short amount of time and has of great reward for the effort. Ogden introduced the idea of verb elimination, which deserved
the outcry that it got. We start with 16 verbs, and upon completion the basic course, we find dozens of additional forms of action words.
Basic does not ask natives English speakers to eliminate part of their vocabulary. It does say that to address a fuller audience, for those addressing an international audience, the use of simpler words are better. Basic offers
a proven system of simpler usage.
Would it be better to select words with only one sense. (rebuttal)
Why force Americanisms on Basic English. One, that is the way my word processor is set up. Anybody can feel free to change the dialectical differences
of when to double letters or in the use of "z" or "s". The result is still Basic to your specific audience. We are accustomed to seeing separate versions on each side of the Atlantic. The practical world of publication tends to move towards a larger audience and American usage because it has that can be more economically addressed with a common edition. Will this dialect difference impact learners? Certainly not in listening and speaking where spelling has no impact. Reading will pose no obstacle, just create an amusing note to the residence of the author. Writing requires a decision. The Basic writer, and his teacher must determine his audience in a matter of small concern. More than once we have been taken to task using the example of alumin(i)um. We suggest that the teacher address that word directly, make a personal decision and avoid self-conflict. The metal has the same properties with or without the "i".
Appendix (Either several lengthy word lists and/or use web links)
Copy the appropriate sections of ISL as placeholders to be used for later customization
Add chapter on Next Step
Add chapter on Simple English
Add proposal of Basic Simplified Spelling
A normal english speaker knows about 45,000 root words.
- The Basic Words word menu
- International Words (include Internet, 20th Century words)
- Almanac words -- calendar, measurements, money, et al
- Symbols and Abbreviations
- Complex words (compounds)
- Full Wordlist - derivatives and compounds
- Special Wordlists -- General and Specialty
- Next Step -- First addenda (150 words) plus First Supplement (350 words)
- New derivatives and compounds
- Basic 2000
Links for book:
Link to: Basic English Institute
About this Page: OBE.html -- Draft of "a path through, Ogden's Basic English". © 2007-2008
Last updated February 24, 2008
Created on December 20, 2007 -- eleventh anniversary of founding of this website.
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