OGDEN's BASIC ENGLISH
Discussions from some 2011 Questions
Question : " ... I see there is a clear list of pronouns selected for use in Basic English. . . . . However, I dont see any possessive forms listed here. For instance, "Your", "my" etc. The reason I am asking is that, words like "ours", "yours" could be considered redundant if BasicEnglish mandates those to be rewritten as "our st." and "your st." Is this the case here? ..."
In the normal course of study the learner is gradually brought to their language. A person with prior knowledge can get ahead of himself on details. Basic is a full language that can be learned in weeks, rather than the 12 years we require of regular English. But it still has progressive building blocks. The simpler vocabulary and grammar satisfies the non-English speaker, while the native-English speaker will likely feel limited.
You ask about pronouns and you ask about possessives and about
possessive pronouns. First, note that Basic is simplified greatly by doing
away with most verbs which are an irregularity of regular English that
requires great learning time and, from the language heard on the street, indications that the "proper" forms are often not learned. Yet the ideas are understood, even if the niceties of grammatical syntax are overlooked.
Second, Basic accepts the irregularities of regular English, warts and all, so that the learner of Basic fits into world-wide English -- there is no attempt to change English, although many of us would love to see English spelling simplified and coordinated with pronunciation.
To teach an improved, even if more logical, English would make the Basic learner an outsider. And full compatibility with world English is a goal, no special learning and nothing to unlearn.
Basic lumps the variants of the eight pronouns into the same category as
the irregularities of the 16 verbs and avoids the complexities of the subject in the early stages of learning. The learner has to first become familiar with the forms adopted with a limited vocabulary. In the later stages of learning the usual variants of verbs and pronouns are taught including the ownership forms of five pronouns. To assure yourself that they exist, see "Basic English: International Second Language", page 170.
The normal possessive is with "apostrophy s" or of a leading "of" as in
John's dog, or, the dog of John.
Irregularities, if any, only need be learned for the limited Basic vocabulary.
I see BE is unlike Simplified English which is domain specific.
Do you know if VOA's Special English is also based on these ideas? I
see BE has multiple target domains namely basic, religion, business
etc. Is there another English Language subset definition that is
similar to BE?
The core of Basic English is of interest of everyone for daily living.
In addition, people have specialized interests, particularly as applied
to work. An additional 150 words can handle most special interests and
brings the total vocabulary for any one learner to a nice round number of 1,000 words.
Ogden cleverly broke the 150 into two parts, a general area of interest
with a common 100 words -- science, religion, etc. and a more specific
area of interest with 50 words -- geology, chemistry, etc.
Note that Ogden provides next steps beyond Basic by adding words selected using the same techniques as selection of the Basic words, intended to bring the learner to within the norms of native English speakers and to the point where one can continue on his own as desired.
- VOA Special English is designed for a special purpose. It is larger, contains both redundancies and gaps making it both more complex to learn and
incomplete for everyday living. Ogden wanted BBC to broadcast the news every hour in Basic, but his supporter, Churchill, was removed from office with the end of WW2 and his successors had a different agenda. VOA picked up the idea, but had no reason to conform to Ogden's standard. Ogden had a draft of a special vocabulary for international news, but it was never finalized. And the topics of interest in news change rapidly. And what impact will texting have on the future of English?
- Specialized English is adapted by a religious group from VOA Special English for international missions.
- Simplified English is a routine discussion of how to better communicate with the masses -- ie. use short sentences, one topic per sentence, avoid complex grammar, etc. The concepts are applicable to all of language.
- Simple English is first, Basic English, in order to express everything needed in everyday living; plus the remainder of the most popular (frequently used) English words to add fluidity to the language. Some writers add the remaining words of the internationally available VOA Special English.
The point of SE is an attempt to pickup the easily available words for the learner's vocabulary. Simple English has its own language division in Wikipedia. However, it is not standardized as to vocabulary (nor mission), although the Institute has offered a basis for such a standard to Wiki. We look upon Simple English as a good way to move beyond the minimums of Basics English where it is used as an introduction to full English. Obviously Basic should be learned first because that will allow the learner to have early participation in English speaking applications ; encourages use, and we all know that practice is what is most lacking in a students work ; and pure Basic is what is required to speak with Basic learners round the world as an international language. Thus Simple English is regionally specific of limited, yet valuable merit.
As an aid to learning about Basic, a count last year showed the web sites
ogden.Basic-English.org -- his works, over 500 pages and 368 images
with over 1,000 pages, if printed, written in Basic
www.Basic-English.org -- Institute, 21st century 300 pages and 70 images.
Possibly interesting web pages -- but don't let this interesting expansion
get in the way of learning the fundamentals of Basic English. Just be satisfied at this point that paths beyond Basic exist.
FAQ -- http://ogden.basic-english.org/faq.html
Simplified English -- too common to list.
Simple English -- http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Try "Basic English".
VOA Special English --http://ogden.basic-english.org/voa.html
Specialized English -- http://ogden.basic-english.org/specialized.html
Comparison with other vocabularies
This first requires page http://www.basic-english.org/21/compare.html
Beyond Basic towards a full English by Ogden
and then this table, http://www.basic-english.org/projects/othervoc.xls
First Addenda -- http://ogden.basic-english.org/word350.html
Next step -- http://ogden.basic-english.org/wordalpn.html
Back to: Ogden's Basic English or Basic English Institute
About this Page: Query11.html -- discussions from questions of general interest about Basic English.
Last updated January 17, 2011
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