THE SYSTEM OF
HARCOURT, BRACE and COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1934, BY
THE ORTHOLOGICAL INSTITUTE
The purpose of this volume is to present in a connected, and as far as possible a complete, form the System of Basic English for English-speaking readers.
At the same time it provides a guide to the growing literature of Basic, so that the reader can get a clear idea of the ways in which the system differs from other attempts to simplify language ; and in particular from such as rely chiefly on word-counts to give them a vocabulary which demands for its manipulation, all the stock-in-trade of the traditional grammarian.
Though it may form a basis for a school course in the hands of an intelligent teacher, it is obviously not a class text-book for beginners in the usual sense. The exposition should be regarded rather as a scaffolding, and the various exercises as models suggestions how the material is to be built up into graded courses at different levels.
The main exposition (Part Two) is actually written in the 850 words of Basic English, as is the whole of Part Three. The Introductory and general sections are in the normal English of those to whom this book is primarily addressed. Thus, the 15% of the book, which is written with a vocabulary of some 25,000 words may be compared with the 85% which is limited to the 850 words appearing on both end-papers of this volume. In this way the advantages or disadvantage of eschewing for certain purposes more than 96% of one's normal vocabulary may be the standpoint of its effect both on style and clarity.
As a psychological and educational discipline and as an international medium, Basic is admittedly a challenge to certain habits which have their roots very deep in our social behavior; but the moment is perhaps not altogether unfavorable to the demand for a new linguistic conscience in the new generation whose social experiments may otherwise be frustrated by outworn verbal formulae. Unlike so many other experiments, however, Basic is not unduly revolutionary. It represents an endeavor to preserve the essentials of a great tradition; and it may even be regarded as conservative by those who advocate a complete break with the past in the New Deal whose cards will be words and symbols. Our reply to these iconoclasts is mild and circumspect : they do not seem sufficiently practical.
Even in social engineering, there must be bridges across which the generations can make their way to whatever lands are promised. Basic is at least a solid and simple structure on which more than 500,000,000 already have a foot securely planted.
C. K. OGDEN
The Orthological Institute
The extract from The Shape of Things to Come on page 298 is translated into Basic by kind permission of Mr. H. G. Wells and The Macmillan Company; that from Prof. J. B. S. Haldane's Possible Worlds on page 233 by courtesy of Harper and Brothers. The publishers are also indebted to the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune for allowing them to include the examples on pp. 139-141 and 152-156 and to the Institute of Pacific Relations for the passage reprinted on page 257.