Before entering on the details of the system known as Basic English, it seems appropriate to answer those general questions which everyone hears of it for the first time is naturally inclined to put to its advocates, whether he be the informed general reader or a Professor of Mathematics. How and why the system developed, the principles on which it has been constructed, the needs and purposes which it professes to serve, the methods learned, its value to the individual, its advantages over other systems -- on which all these points questions suggest themselves and the answers here attempted may prove suggestive.
1 . WHAT IS BASIC ENGLISH ?
Basic English is a selection of 850 English words which will cover the needs of everyday living. These word are selected for their utility and may not be the words most frequently used ; but all of them are common, and more than 600 of them are used by any English-speaking child of six.
The Basic words contain
200 names of picturable objects, and 400 other names of things ; making 600 nouns in all. There are 150 adjectives. And 100 other words that make these names and adjectives work as normal English.
Basic English is a proper subset of full English. It is perfectly good English that gives no outward signs of being other than normal language. There is nothing artificial added and there is no unlearning for to go on to full English.
2 . WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE ?
Basic English is intended to serve as an international auxiliary language -- that is to
say, a second language for use throughout the world in general communication, commerce, and science.
Because Basic English is quick to learn, it is natural to be used as an introduction to learning full English.
As a first step it allows the learner to participate in English
and allows practice, which gives confidence, which encourages more learning. It is complete in for those whose natural language is not English
Thirdly, a learner can progress to full English, either straightaway or at any later time, with no unlearning required.
Fourthly, because Basic is mainly nouns, it does not have the emotional content of full English, and encourages clarity of thought and expression, for English-speaking peoples at any stage of proficiency.
3 . WHY 850 WORDS ?
The English language is very rich with words taken from many countries. However, if we reduced the selection to the most necessary things and actions, the number can be greatly reduced. For example, that are at least 60 ways to give the idea of a house, place to live or sleep or to "hang one's hat". On any common day a person may only use 300 different words. some words are used again and again, in fact, 43% of English usage is of only 50 common words. Selecting the words for a basic language is a balance between learning time and ability to say what is required for everyday living. A list of the most common words is not sufficient because they tend to be helping words, not those that give the give the ideas of thought. The words selected must be useful. Basic English reduces the number of verbs to be learned along with a list of directives; it provides a list of the most useful qualifiers (adjectives) and a list of helping words to make the language work smoothly. This core is only 850 words. The largest category in Basic is "things" (nouns). Many things may be understood by pictures which makes Basic easy to learn. The most useful things are taught as Basic. The learner puts the words together to for everyday living.
Many more nouns may be learned that are of interest in specific instances. To provide for this, basic offers a list of 100 special words for particular areas of interest: business, science, literature Then, to provide for employment, an additional 50 words will put the learner in good condition such as :
commerce, mathematics, biology, geology, bible study. The total is 1000 words for the learner to do everyday living, to communicate in a special area and to seek employment.
Basic English makes not pretence of literary merit, it offers a quick and proven way to quickly
participate in English. It is a balance between learning time and beauty of language. However, let those who think that 850 words are inadequate read some the sample classic literature simplified into Basic to see that it is able to express all subjects with clarity, with ease.
4 . WHY ENGLISH WORDS ?
1 . Because English is now the natural or governmental language of over 5,000,000,000  people. An official language of ninty members of the United Nations
as well as being the chief language of that international body. It is the language is which the bulk of the world's commerce; general is sport and entertainment; the language of travel;
It is the principle language of most of the radio, television, and motion pictures.
It is taught in all countries, and compulsory in the most developed nations.
It's grammar is simpler than any of the other great languages and no other natural lang ague can be as simplified in structure.
For example, Basic, with its limited vocabulary is more likely that words may be identified when spoken with words and senses understood, even when surrounded by a thick accent.
5 . WHAT ABOUT GRAMMAR ?
Some parts of English grammar are used over and over and there a a few rules that allow access to much of English. There are also problems with English -- action words (verbs) do not follow simple rules. The way round this in Basic is to learn a few valuable verbs in all there forms. These few action words, when combined with direction words (prepositions) can express almost all operations that one needs. Lastly, English is rich in forms, but the most common and simple sentence form of -- subject, action, object -- is quick to learn and puts the learner on the path of good English.
6 . HOW CAN YOU GET RID OF VERBS ?
Most verbs describe an action and a direction. "Climb" is to go + up; "descend" is go + down. Basic English does not need most verbs. The learn has only two short lists to learn, 16 fundamental actions plus 20 basic directives and a large and complex subject of 4000 verbs and irregular verbs is eliminated. Because Basic uses the combination of a few verbs and their directions, the word "operators" is given generally used and not verbs. And prepositions are more clearly called "directives".
The goal of Basic English is to be good English totally transparent with native speakers, with no artificialities, nothing to unlearn, and does not hid the few irregularities in the reduced Basic vocabulary. Therefore the 16 basic verbs conjugate in full and including irregularities.
7 . HOW DOES BASIC DEAL WITH TECHNICAL MATTERS ?
The names of specific things exist outside any language and are part of every language. The Eiffel Tower is a specific name (proper noun) and may be used freely in any language.
The specific names of scientific things are often uniquely described with an approved name in Latin.
Proper nouns have their the first letter of each word in capital letters. Scientific names are often
in Latin with slanting letters (italics). Other words that are considered necessary for any usage may be described
once in Basic words -- for example in (parentheses} or 1footnote -- and the word used thereafter without resort to a long expression of Basic words. Any abbreviate expression that would be used in normal English speech or writing that may be expected to be understood by the intended audience may be used -- TV, UN, URL, etc. .
The common standards of measure are freely used -- a basic list of 50 words is
reviewed in learning Basic -- January, Monday, first, one, inches, and the metric units of measure are allowed in Basic use.
International words are those that are so common among the people round the earth as to be considered as belonging to the intentional community and not limited to any one language -- menu, cafe, beer -- may be used freely. Where the audience is limited, then English words
of commonality may be considered international. For example, the large community of Hispanic in American
might consider -- this list -- as common, even though they may not be clear to a Basic learner in
Germany. Caution that this extended use will prevent the understanding by the rest of the international community.
Complex words that are created by combinations of Basic words in their Basic sense
may be used -- blackbird is a sort of black bird; but not butterfly is not valid because butter and an insect have not useful meaning.
8 . HOW WILL SPOKEN BASIC BE STANDARDIZED ?
English speech is available everywhere -- radio, television, cinema, clips on the Internet.
At one time, BBC English was considered the perfect way of saying English. This may still be considered an excellent source, even though they now allowed dialects on the air. Various nationalities speak English with a strong local accent. A standard of BBC pronunciation or the pronunciation of news readers on television will allow the learner to be most clearly understood. An advantage of the limited vocabulary is that even a difficult pronunciation allows the hearer to guess at the intended words.
9 . HOW WILL THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES LEARN BASIC ?
The original purpose of Basic English is to provide an version for usage round the earth.
A second usage has developed, that as an introduction to standard English. This came about when it was recognized that the most effective way to learn a full language is to practice with it and Basic allows the learner to quickly enter into everyday usage with other learners and native speakers. Teachers round
the earth complain that their learners stop using the language as commonly taught in schools, whereas
the useful features of Basic allow quick stating and ongoing use.
The learner of Basic is able to say almost everything to all English speakers. However, unless the other side of the conversation is limited to the 850 words, then much of what the learner hears or reads will not be clear to him. With the inventions of electronic word processing, writing in standard English may be quickly translated to Basic -- the most frequently used words are already in Basic.
For international purposes it is very easy for a native English speaker to use the Basic words and to limit his . A person need not know every word said to get the meaning in a common conversation.
Certain authors have found that use of the simple forms and useful words of Basic English force themselves to be more clear in the logic of their thinking and make even complex thoughts to be more clear, to become able to be understood by their readers.
Where Basic is used for the introduction to standard English, it becomes easy for the speaker to revert to his earliest form of the language when speaking internationally. Because the learner of Basic will
speak simply with the vocabulary of an early school child, does not mean that the ideas that will be expressed are limited to simple subjects, only that the forms are simple and easy to understand.
10 . WHAT IS BASIC ENGLISH LIKE ?
This book is not written in Basic English -- the beginner would not yet be able to understand it even if it were. The expert will recognize some of the simplifications of Basic are used, but the full range of English is regularly used to avoid repetition with the limited vocabulary. It would be appropriate to use here a sample of pure Basic.
There have been dozens of books written in Basic, the list is in the appendix. Some 100 pages of short stories and chapters of books are available on Basic-English.org websites. By passing this page through a spell checker we find that items ??, ??, and ?? are pure Basic English and you or I never noticed. There are over 1000 printed pages of Basic text with subjects for all persons on that website.
Part of what makes Basic English so natural for the common interests of men and women, general talk, news, trade, and science is the simple rules that
allow the 850 words to make other words. such as the word design, may become designer, designing, designed, designs or air-plane is made from air and plane. The word order is fixed by other short rules, which make it clear from an example such as
"I will put on the radio now"
For grammar, whatever is doing the act comes first; then the time word (tense), such as will; then the act or operation, such as put, take, or get; then the thing to which something is done, and so on. The forms are so common that a word wheel can make sentences by rotation of
a circle with a list of doers, time helpers, operators, and object words with modifiers. See Ogden's word wheel programmed by John Derry.
The 850 words can perform the work of 20,000 words found in the "Pocket Oxford Dictionary." Basic is made by removing redundancies and all words where a few simpler words will say the same thing.
Disembark, for example, is said with the Basic words " get off a ship ". The meaning of can though among the most frequently used English words, is adequately addressed with "may" or "is able to";
shape is covered by the more general word form; and difficult by the use of hard. Basic English is an attempt to give to everyone a second, or international language, which will take as little of the learner's time as possible. There have been complaints by literary persons that Basic restricts their ability to
use the perfect word from their large vocabulary. But Basic is designed for everyday communication and is able to be learned by persons from all countries and is not limited to the highly educated, although,
such persons are able to understand the common words. A person with advanced standard English skills should be able to express any useful ideas in simple words of Basic.
The learner of Basic will be able to make sense of BBC World Service and VOA Special English news or a business letter, after a week with the wordlist ; but it may be a month or two before talking and writing are possible.
11 . WHAT ABOUT ESPERANTO ?
Esperanto is an attempt to solve the problem of an international auxiliary language, based on the common factors in certain of the main European languages. It retains the essentials of the
verb-system and relies largely on inflection together with some fifty prefixes and suffices. However, it remains an artificial language that is used by language hobbyists round the world. English however, it the defacto world language. The learner of Basic English can immediately enter the international world of trade, travel, sports, science, and education. a person learning Esperanto will be able to communicate with a small group of persons in many countries, but not by any persons in ordinary life or business. The learner of Basic will be understood by much of the worlds population. English has become the second language of East, Pacific, and Africa, whereas Esperanto is a European language not spoken in Europe.
Esperanto with its numerous competing offspring -- Ido, Novial, Occidental, Interlingua, Klingon, and the rest have merit is trying to regularize a language as written and spoken. The effort might more usefully be spent on regularizing the immediately usable world English.
12 . WHY NOT LATIN ?
During the late middle ages, Latin was the literary language of Western Europe. It was a second language of international communication. It lost out to local languages as the common people
became more literate. Latin is complex and may take ten years to master and is not suitable for a second language for the masses of men and woman. 'Interlingua,' or Latin without inflections, has secured adherents for many of the same reasons as Basic.
No artificial language has the merit of immediate utility that English has.
13 . CAN BASIC BE LEARNED BY CHILDREN ?
Children learn whatever they are taught and experience. If Basic were taught as a second language to all children, then in two generations, there would be a common second language for the earth. Think about if the world governments had decided to include Basic as part of their curriculum beginning about 1950, then in two generations, all persons would have now been able to speak to every person by the end of the last century.
Because Basic English is such a adequate language for adults does not limit its use by children where the simple and picturable parts make it ideal for young persons. In fact the opposite argument might be made, that Basic probably the language best suited for a ten-year old, but imagine being able to speak with anyone, anywhere with the words of a ten-year old in the mind of an adult on any topic of interest.
14 . HOW DOES BASIC DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM OF IDIOM ?
15 . WHAT IS THE BASIC POLICY AS REGARDS SPELLING REFORM ?