OGDEN's PANOPTIC METHOD
The term Panoptic means "at a glance." The Panoptic Method used to select the
words is described in BASIC ENGLISH : A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar , Part II Chapter 3, "How the 850 Words to their Work"
By putting the word to be tested in the middle of a circle with lines going out from it like
the arms or rays of a starfish, so that on every line we get a relation or connection with
some other possible word, questions may be framed in the form -- "What word takes the
place of the word in the middle in this connections?" These other words will then be
placed at the end of the lines, all round the circle. For example, if the key-word dog
is in the middle: What is another name for a dog in connection with Time?
Answer: Puppy. Clearly the word puppy will not be needed if we have dog
and the connection with Time is covered by young. The same will be true of bitch,
in relation to sex, if we have female in our Basic list. And when our range of
questions is complete, we have a complete picture of the word in relation to all the other
words in a language which have a connections with it.
If, for everyday needs, the word in the middle, used with the words on the joining line,
will take the place of the new word at the end of the line, that word may go. It is not
necessary in this connection. So if we have young and dog, puppy
will not be kept in the Basic list. The question "What is a puppy?" is answered fully and readily by 'a young
dog' on the line marking the Time-relation.
In making a map for all sorts of words there are thirty lines for thirty sorts of possible
questions; though for a word like dog, some questions will not be answered. Dogs do not
come into all the relations talked about in connections with men, mountains, machines, or
music; so there is, for example, no special word (such as litigant, plaintiff, client)
for a dog in relation to Law.
This then, is the apparatus used in 'Panoptic definition'; and when the answers
are all put in on any one map, with special uses underlined, or colored,
we get a picture with an important and interesting story for the Basic expert;
and with its help he is in a much better position to make up his mind about
the value of words for which an argument might be put forward.
With his working selection of key words, he will be read to go through
the Pocket Oxford to make certain that every one of its 25,000
commonest words has a place somewhere on one of the maps.
Here are some of the thirty questions.
Others suggested by Volapük: Number, Gender, Case, Person, Degree, Tense, Mood, Voice.
"The Panoptic Method was outlined in our Editorial of January, 1930,
(Vol X, No 3)".
A planned book on the subject was never completed.
FLASH ! A member has found it !
Or, at least, a version of it.
From : http://homepage3.nifty.com/BasicEnglishSociety/takata.html in Japanese.
Leading into the picture seems to be the quote from
Basic English : A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar
Credit seems to be given to his book : Opposition : A Linguistic and Psychological Analysis
Related, if only by name.
Panopticon, Word Wheel, sentence builder
Ogden's idea of a Panopticon,
word wheel, is to let the new Basic learner see a logical way to put his thoughts into English sentences.
See discussions on the Institute web pages for both Education and Learning.
Links : Panoptic Method / Panopticon --
be1 , be4 , dictionary , isl111 , psyche35
be3 be23 beas begr isl112 isl113 isl530 wordwheel
Back to: Ogden's Basic English
or Basic English Institute
About this Page: Panoptic.html -- methodology for determining
the Basic words.
Last updated December 7, 2004 - Add image.