The General Basic English Dictionary is chiefly for the use of learners of English -- for the young who are still making discoveries about their mother-tongue, and even more for those, young and old, who are taking up English as a new language. Using only the 850 words of Basic (which are naturally the key words for Dictionary purposes) and the 50 international words which go with them, it gives a knowledge of over 20,000 English words, covering at least 40,000 separate senses and special word-groups. With its help, anyone who has had some training in the structure of English, through Basic or any other system, will be able to make headway by himself with the English of Library, Radio, and Newspaper.Selection of Words
This is, as it is named, a general Dictionary, designed to give as wide a range of words as possible without attempting to be a detailed guide to special fields. Words which are now come across only in the works of early writers and words which are the stamp of the old learning based on Greek and Latin are looked on as no less the apparatus of the expert than the words of some branch of science, and have been given no more space. As far as possible a balance has been kept between the interests of the old education and the new, without overlooking the fact that, for the learner, what is current is more important than what is past. For this reason, special attention has been given to words and uses which, though new, have clearly become part of the language.Senses and Uses
The behavior of common structure words like as, it, the, to, and who, has been gone into very fully. Such words are frequently given no place in short Dictionaries, though, in fact, a number of them give more trouble to learners than any others. Not only is it necessary to have all the different senses of these words clearly sorted, but their tricks of use and the changes of sense which they undergo in the fixed word-groups named "idioms" are among the hardest things in the English language.
All through the Dictionary great care has been given to idioms, and though nothing has been listed as an idiom which is in fact covered by a general sense, no true idiom important and common enough for attention has been overlooked. The idioms which go with a word are given in sloping print after its straightforward senses.Special Points for the Learner
From the learner's point of view, one of the commonest ways in which Dictionaries let their readers down is by going round in circles--that is, by giving the sense of a word with the help of another which is itself made clear by going back, sometimes in a roundabout way, to the first. Every attempt has been made here to keep clear of this process, which, further, is automatically limited by the use of Basic. Naturally, when two or more words have the same sense, it is only necessary to give an account in Basic of one of them, which may then be used for the others. In addition, for reasons of space, a word not in the Basic list has sometimes been used in giving the sense of another, but this has been done only when there is no danger of making things less clear by it. All words outside the Basic system are put in different print (BILLIARDS), as a sign that they are to be turned to in their places for further light. Words which are not Basic may, however, be used in normal print in giving an account of words formed from, and grouped under, them.
Only the expansions and special senses and uses forming part of Basic for the common learner have been made use of. If a word is used in any but its Basic sense, it is put into the same print as words which are not Basic at all. Some of the uses which give Basic its great range are at a higher level than the English generally come across in books for learners, but there is only one which it seems necessary for those new to the language, and without a knowledge of Basic, to take special note of. That is the use of the word " certain" as equal to "special but not named here."Pictures
Pictures have been used not simply for ornament but to give help where it is most needed. Frequently a picture is representative of more than one word, and where this is so, the word at which the picture comes in is used in giving the sense of the other words covered by it.Sounds
The sounds of the words are made clear by a special system of signs, the key to which is printed on page x. It has not seemed necessary to give a guide to the sounds of complex words, or of those formed from another by the addition of one of the endings listed at the back of the Dictionary. The sound signs for these last are printed with them. Another group of words for which no sound guide is given is the regular Latin plural forms.Special Lists
At the end of the Dictionary there are separate lists of common short forms, and of words and word-groups taken into English from other languages. Some of the words from French, German, and so on, which are so frequently used that they are almost looked on as English, are, however, given in the body of the Dictionary in black sloping print.
The regular names of the different sorts of words are used in their short forms
A number of short forms of Basic words have been used for different purposes. Those placed between [ ] are the sign of some group, branch of learning, etc., into which the word or sense so marked comes. The forms used in this way are:
|[Com.]||common, used only in talk, not in writing|
|[Hist.]||the name of something now past, a part of history|
|[Hum.].||used with suggestion of humor|
|[Let.].||used in verse, etc., not for everyday purposes|
|[Lang.].||science of language|
In another group come the short forms representative of nations and languages:
|G.||German||U.S.A.||United States of America|
N., S., E.. W., are used for north, south, east, and west.
R.C. - of the Church of Rome.
Last, there are short forms for a small number of frequently used words: etc. = at cetera (in Basic, "and so on") ; freq. = frequently ; gen. = generally ; opp. = opposite or the opposite of ; sp. = specially, chiefly ; sp., = having as a special use the sense now to be given.
At the back of the Dictionary is printed a list of the common endings, with their senses and sounds, which may be put onto words to make new ones. A word made from another word by the simple addition of an ending or another word is put under the word from which it comes, and not printed in its full form, but with "-" in place of the first part. If it is a complex word whose parts are joined by "- ", the first letter of the first word is put before the joining-sign. When a word's natural place in the Dictionary, in ABC order, is at some distance from the word under which it comes, it is put in again in that place, with directions to see the root word. A word made with any of the listed endings if it is quite regular in form, sound, and sense, is not put into the Dictionary at all. If it is regular in sense, but not in other ways, it is printed, but no account of it is given. If it has another sense in addition to that normally given by the ending, only this sense is put in, after " Sp.,".
As there are endings which may be put onto words to give them a special sense, so there are first parts which may be joined to the front of words for the same purpose. Parts of this sort have been put into the Dictionary like separate words, with a list of the words they make grouped under them. Where such a list is complete, the words are given in thick print ; but where they are simply examples of a great number of words which may be so formed, they are in sloping print.
Sometimes a word is needed in giving an account of one of its senses. When this is so, only the first letter of the word is printed. For the pl. form of such a word, the letter is printed twice.
When the simple past form of a v. and its past form used with "have" are not made by the addition of -ed, they are printed after it between the signs ( ). If the two forms are the same, only one is given. In the same way, pl. forms of nn., and forms for comparison of aa. and advs., are put in when they are not regular.
With vv. ending in y, this letter is changed to i before -ed, and with those ending in e, the e is dropped. The same changes take place in other words whose last letter is y or e before endings starting with a, e, i, or o. These regular changes have not been specially noted in the Dictionary.
In giving the senses of a v.t., the sort of thing to which the act is done is frequently made clear by putting a word between the signs ( ).
When the same word is a n. and a v., if the sense of the v. only is given, that of the n. is to be taken as: "the act of doing the v."; if, on the other hand, the sense of the n. only is given, that of the v. is: "do the act named by the n."
IF a certain prep. is needed after a word, this prep. is put into the account of it between the signs ( ) and in sloping print. When a prep. may sometimes be put after a word, but may, on the other hand, be taken as covered by its sense, it is in sloping print but not between ( ).
Sometimes in a word-group of the sort put in sloping print, one or the other of two or more words may equally well be used to give the same sense. This is made clear by putting the different possible words one after the other, for example : a great, good, many, a great number of. Where a word-group of opposite sense `may be formed by changing one word, the opposite word is given between the signs ( ), though, naturally, not every word so printed in these examples is an opposite.
When for one of the senses of a word its first letter is never a small one, this is made clear by printing the letter in question between the signs ( ) at the end of that sense -- for example, under "puritan," (P.).
There is no one right way of saying the sounds of the English language, but a number of different ways, all equally good. That given here is based on the way of talking common in the south of England among persons of good education. If you go to the north, or to Wales, or to America, you will come across other sorts of English. However, if you say the sounds as they are printed in this Dictionary, You will be clear everywhere.
In the south, r is only sounded when an open sound comes after it, as in run and bright. In words like burn, star, and certain, no r is said in the south, though it is in other parts of Britain. In our simple system, only the r's sounded by everyone are put in, but all the r's seen in a word as normally printed may be sounded if desired.
SIMPLE OPEN SOUNDS
|a||rat [rat]||i:||week [wi:k]||u:||rule [ru:l]|
|a:||part [paxt]||@||pot [p@t]||*||a'gam [*'gein),|
|e||bell [bel3||@:||sort [s@:t]||older [ould*]|
|i||will [wil]||^||nut [n^t]||*:||earth [*:θ]|
COMPLEX OPEN SOUNDS
|ai||tight [tait]||ei||say [sei]||ou||no [nou]|
|au||fowl [faul]||i*||fear [fi*]||u*||poor [pu*]|
|ea||hair [hea]||*i||boy [b*i]|
|b||body [b*di]||l||late [leit]||t||take [teik]|
|t∫||cheese [t∫i:z]||m||male [meil)||θ||thought [θ@:t)|
|d||do [du:]||n||now [nau]||ð||this [ðis]|
|f||fall [f*:l]||ŋ||thing [θiŋ]||v||vessel [vesl]|
|g||get [get]||p||pain [pein]||w||wind [wind]|
|h||have [hay]||r||rain [rein]||j||yellow [jelou]|
|d3||judge [d3Ld3]||s||send [send]||z||was [w@z]|
|k||keep [ki:p]||∫||ship [∫ip]||3||pleasure [ple3*]|
A mark is put before the part of the word on which the weight comes (de'sign). In complex words, and words formed from another by the addition of an ending, when the weight is on the root word, the mark is put before the joining-sign (`-ed, under a'bandon, `-clay, under pipe). When the weight is on the ending or the second word, the mark is put after the joining-sign (-`arium, under herb, -`self, under one). When the weight comes equally on the two parts of a complex word, no mark is used (j.-black, under jet).
Though, when the weight on a word is changed, there is frequently some other change in the sound, it is generally enough for only the change in weight to be noted, because the change in sound will make automatically. One point to keep in mind is the tendency for open sounds to become "a" when the weight is taken off them.
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