First comes a sample of Anna Sewell's children's book, Black Beauty. Note how much of it is in Basic already and how easy it is to follow the same sequence. A phrase-by-phrase translation is here in place.
Original. When I had eaten my corn, I looked round. In the stall next to mine stood a little fat
gray pony, with a thick mane and tail, a very pretty head, and a pert little nose.
I put my head up to the iron rails at the top of my box, and said, "How do you do? What is your name?"
He turned round as far as his halter would allow, held up his head, and said, "My name is Merrylegs: I am very handsome, I carry the young ladies on my back, and sometimes I take our mistress out in the low chair. They think a great deal of me, and so does James. Are you going to live next door to me in the box?"
I said, "Yes."
"Well, then," he said, "I hope you are good-tempered; I do not like anyone next door who bites." -- Anna Sewell, Black Beauty, Macrae Smith, pp. 18-19.
Basic. When I had had my grain, I took a look round. In the box nearest me was a little fat
gray horse, with thick hair on his neck and tail, a beautiful head and a questioning little nose.
I put my head up to the iron rails at the top of my box, and said, "How do you do? What is your name?"
He put his head round as far as his headband would let him, lifting it high, and said. "My name is Merrylegs. I am very good-looking. I take the young women on my back, and sometimes I take Mrs. Gordon out in the little low carriage. They have a high opinion of me, and so has James. Are you going to be in the box near me?"
I said, "Yes.'
"Then," said he, "it is my hope that you are good-humored; I would not be pleased to have anyone near me who has a trick of biting." -- Anna Sewell, Black Beauty in Basic English, Psyche Miniatures, Kegan Paul, pp. 15-16.
The second and third translations, taken straight from Perrault, provide Basic versions amusing to compare, if you do not want to work from the French, with The Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots of the fairy-tale book. The original French is also supplied.
Original . Alors le roi et la reine, apres avoir baise leur chere enfant, sans qu'elle s'eveillat1 sortirent du chateau, et firent publier des defenses a qui que ce fut d'en approcher. Ces defenses n'etaient pas necssaires; car il cruit, dans un quart d'heure, tout autour du parc, une si grande quantite de grands arbres et de petits, de ronces et d'epines entrelacees les unes dans les autres, que bete ni homme n'y aurait pu passer; en sorte qu'on ne voyait plus que le haut des tours du chateau, encore n'etait-ce que de bien loin. On ne douta point que la fee n'eut encore fait la un tour de son metier, afin que la princesse, pendant qu'elle dormirait, n'eut rien a craindre des curieux. -- "La Belle au Bois Dormant."
|Full English version . And now the king and queen, having kissed their dear child without waking 1 her, went out of the palace and put forth a proclamation, that nobody should dare to come near it. This, however, was not necessary; for, in a quarter of an hour's time, there grew up, all round about the park, such a vast number of trees, great and small, bushes and brambles, twining one within another, that neither man nor beast could pass thro'; so that nothing could be seen but the very top of the towers of the palace; and that too, not unless it was a good way off. Nobody doubted but the Fairy gave herein a very extraordinary sample of her art, that the Princess, while she continued sleeping, might have nothing to fear from any curious people. -- "The Sleeping Beauty," in Perrault, Tales, London, Selwyn and Blount, 1923, pp. 22-23.||Basic . Then the King2 and Queen, after kissing their daughter, went away, and gave orders that nobody was to go near the house in which the girl was. These orders were not necessary, because in less than a quarter of an hour, there came up all round the house and its fields and gardens a great number of trees, great and small, with sharp points and a network of branches; which all together made such a thick mass that no man or animal would be able to get through. Only the round tops of the highest parts of the house were now in view, and even those were only to be seen from a great distance off. There was no doubt that this was another of the Fairy's tricks, and that her purpose was to keep the Princess from being looked at by persons who had no business there. --" The Princess Who Went to Sleep for 100 Years," from Stories from France put into Basic English by H. Walpole, Kegan Paul, 1935, pp. 30, 31.|
1 . The Basic translator omitted this, feeling perhaps that the whole plot of the tale made it unnecessary.
2 . King and Queen and Princess and Fairy are used as titles. The first three are listed with other words like President, Royal, College, and Dominion which come into special names used internationally. (See page 110.) Fairies are too common in Perrault for descriptions to replace the word; and to be a Fairy is after all to have a certain rank and style.
Original . Le chat continua ainsi, pendant deux ou trois mois, tie porter de temps en temps au roi du gibier3 de la chaise de son maitre. Un jour qu'il sut que le roi devait aller a la promenade sur le bord de la rivière, avec sa fille, la plus belle princesse du monde, il dit a son maître:
"Si vous voulez suivre mon conseil, votre fortune eat faite: vow n'avez qu'à vow baigner dan. la riviere, a l'endroit quo je vous montrerai et en-suite me luiuser faire."
Le marquis de Carabas fit ce que son chat lui conseillait, sans savoir a quoi cela serait bon. Dans lc temps qu'il se baignait, Ic roi vint a passer, 'et le chat se mit a crier tie toute sa force:
"Au secours! au sceours! voila M. le Marquis do Carabas qui w noie!" 4
A ce cri, le roi mit la tête a la portière, et reconnaissant le chat qui lui avait apporté, tant de fois du gibier, il ordonna a ses gardes qu'on allât au secours de M. le Marquis de Carabas. -- "Le Chat Botte." in Charles Perrault, Les Contes des Fees, Paris, Amédee Bédelet, Editeur, p. 44.
Full English version . The Cat continued for two or three months, thus to carry his majesty, from time to time, game3 of his master's taking. One day in particular, when he knew for certain that he was to take the air, along the river side, with his daughter, the most beautiful princess in the world, he said to his master, "If you will follow my advice, your fortune is made; you have nothing else to do, but go and wash yourself in the river, in that part I shall show you, and leave the rest to me." The marquis of Carabas did what the Cat advised him to, without knowing why or wherefore.
While he was washing,- the king passed by, and the Cat began to cry out as loud as he could, "Help, help, my lord marquis of Carabas is going to be drowned."4 At this noise the king put his head out of his coach-window, and finding it was the Cat who had so often brought him such good game, he commanded his guards to run immediately to the assistance of his lordship the marquis of Carabas. -- "Puss in Boots," in Perrault, Tales, London, Selwyn and Blount, 1922, pp. 32-33.
Basic . Puss kept on like this for two or three months, taking animals3 to the king, and saying they were sent by the marquis of Carabas.
One day he got news that the king was going driving with his daughter by the side of the river. His daughter was the most beautiful princess on earth. The cat said to the young man: 'If you do as I say, you will become a great man today. You have only to go for a swim in a certain part of the river, and I will do the rest."
The young man did as the cat said, though he had no idea of the reason. While he was having a swim, the king's carriage came by, and the cat said loudly, "Help, help! The marquis of Carabas is in the river!" 4 At this cry the king put his head out of the carriage window. He saw that it was the cat which had been coming to his house so frequently; and he gave his servants the order to go quickly to the help of the marquis of Carabas. -- From Stories from France put into Basic English by H. Walpole, Kegan Paul) 1935, pp. 59-60.
3 . Gibier, game. It is not easy to say exactly what "game" is in any language. (It would include larks in some parts of the world end definitely exclude rabbits in others!) "Animals for the king's table" would have taken the Basic a step nearer.
4 . Se noie, is drowning. The translator has used the con text skillfully. When cries of "Help!" are heard and a man is in the river, it is clear enough what the danger is. Any heavy-handedness there would arrest the lovely magical flow of the tale.
Stevenson is known to have kept his language in this next story simple for the sake of Islanders little accustomed to literary English. The first of his Pacific stories in prose, it appealed strongly to the natives of Samoa to whom it was addressed in a missionary translation under the title of "Ole fagu aitu." Parts of the English version, which has the same straightforward quality as the Samoan, are not very far from Basic, as Mr. Ogdieu points out. Expressions like "a lockfast place" remind us, however, that Basic is a more modern language of a mechanized world, and does not hesitate to use a term like "safe."
Original . There was a man of the Island of Hawaii, whom I shall call Keawe; for the truth is, he still lives, and his name must be kept secret; but the place of his birth was not far from Honaunau, where the bones of Keawe the Great lie hidden in a cave.5 This man was poor, brave, and active; he could read and write like a schoolmaster; he was a first-rate mariner besides, sailed for some time in the island steamers, and steered a whaleboat on the Hamakua coast. At length it came in Keawe's mind to have a sight of the great world and foreign cities, and he shipped on a vessel bound to San Francisco.
This is a fine town, with a fine harbour, and rich people uncountable; and, in particular, there is one hill which is covered with palaces. Upon this hill Keawe was one day taking a walk with his pocket full of money, viewing the great houses upon either hand with pleasure. "What fine houses these are!" he was thinking, "and how happy must those people be who dwell in them, and take no care for the morrow!" The thought was in his mind when he came abreast of a house that was smaller than some others, but all finished and beautiful like a toy; the steps of that house shone like silver, and the borders of the garden bloomed like garlands, and the windows were bright like diamonds; and Keawe stopped and wondered at the excellence of all he saw. So stopping, be was aware of a man that looked forth upon him through a window so clear that Keawe could see him as you see a fish in a pool upon the reef. The man was elderly, with a bald head and a black beard; and his face was heavy with sorrow, and he bitterly sighed. And the truth of it is, that as Keawe looked in upon the man, and the man looked out upon Keawe, each envied the other.
All of a sudden, the man smiled and nodded, and beckoned Keawe to enter, and the man met him at the door of the house.
"This is a fine house of mine," said the man, and bitterly sighed. "Would you not care to view the chambers?"
So he led Keawe all over it, from the cellar to the roof, and there was nothing there that was not perfect of its kind, and Keawe was astonished.
"Truly," said Keawe, "this is a beautiful house; if I lived in the like of it, I should be laughing all day long. How comes it, then, that you should be sighing?"
"There is no reason," said the man, "why you should not have a house in all points similar to this, and finer, if you wish. You have some money, I suppose?"
"I have fifty dollars," said Keawe; "but a house like this will cost more than fifty dollars."
The man made a computation.6' "I am sorry you have no more," said he, "for it may raise you trouble in the future; but it shall be yours at fifty dollars."
"The house?" asked Keawe.
"No, not the house," replied the man; "but the bottle. For, I must tell you, all my fortune,7 and this house itself and its garden, came out of a bottle not much bigger than a pint. This is it."
And he opened a lockfast place, and took out a round-bellied bottle with a long neck; the glass of it was white like milk, with changing rainbow colours in the grain. Withinsides something obscurely moved, like a shadow and a fire. -- R. L. Stevenson, "The Bottle Imps" from Island Nights' Entertainments, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1893, pp. 129-132.
Basic . There was a man on the Island of Hawaii, to whom I will give the name of Keawe; because the fact is that he is still living, and it is necessary to keep his name secret -- but the place of his birth was not far from Honaunau, where the bones of Keawe the Great have their resting-place. in a stone hollow.5 This man was poor, a lover of danger, and a hard worker; he was as good at reading and writing as a schoolteacher. In addition, he was a first-rate seaman, and had been for some time on an island steamer, and had taken a fishing-boat down Hamakua way. At last it came into Keawe's mind to see something of other countries and other towns, and he went as a sailor on a vessel going to San Francisco.
This is a beautiful town, with a beautiful harbor, and thousands of moneyed persons; and specially, there is one slope which is covered with great and important-looking houses. Upon this slope, Keawe was one day taking a walk with his pocket full of money, viewing the great houses to right and left of him with pleasure. "What beautiful houses these are!" he was saying to himself, "and how happy are the persons living in them, who take no care for tomorrow!" The thought was in his mind when he came up to a house which was smaller than some others, but complete in every detail and like a plaything made with loving care; The steps of that house were like silver, and the flowers edging the garden walks were a pleasure to see, and the windows were as bright as jewels. Keawe came to a stop, surprised at what he saw. He became conscious that a man was looking out at him through a window so clear that Keawe saw him as you see a fish in smooth water. The man was quite old, with no hair on his head, and a growth of black hair on his chin; his face was very sad, and from his lips there came the sounds of a man whose heart is bitter. And the fact is that Keawe looking in at the man and the man looking out at Keawe, had an equal desire to be in the other's place.
Suddenly the man gave a smile, and, motioning with his head, made a sign to Keawe to come in, and went to the door of the house.
"This is a beautiful house of mine" said the man bitterly. "Wouldn't you be interested to see the rooms?"
So he took Keawe all over it, from the wine-store to the roof, and there was nothing there which was not the best of its sort, and Keawe had no words for it all.
"Truly," said Keawe, "this is a beautiful house; if I had one like it for myself, I would be laughing all through the day. How is it, then, that you are so unhappy?"
"It is quite possible," said the man, "for you to have a house like this in every detail, or better, even. You no doubt have some money?"
"I have fifty dollars," said Keawe, "but the price of a house like this will be more than fifty dollars."
The man gave thought6 wit. "It is sad that you have no more," said be, "because it may be a cause of trouble to you in the future; but I will let you have it for fifty dollars."
"The house?" said Keawe.
"No, not the house," was the man's answer, "but the bottle. Because, you see, though it seems to you that I have been smiled on by chance7 and am very well-off, all my money, and this house itself and its garden, came out of a bottle about the size of a pint measure. This is it."
And, opening a safe, he took out a bottle with a round base and a long neck; the glass of it was white like milk, with changing colors in the grain. Inside, something was darkly seen to be moving like a shade and a fire. -- R. L. Stevenson, Keawe's Bottle in Basic English, London, Kegan Paul, pp. 9-12.
5 . Cave -- "a stone hollow" might well bring to mind a rocky valley rather than a cave. To try too specifically to render "hidden in a cave" would be to lose the touch of awe which is much more important here. Some of it, at least, is kept by "a stone hollow."
6 .The more general thought, in the Basic, doing duty for computation, keeps the smoothness and pace of the story with no loss of clarity. The man's next words show what sort of thinking he had been doing in the pause.
7 . "Smiled on by chance." The translator has perhaps made too gallant an effort to squeeze out all the sense in fortune. The dramatic movement is better suited by keeping the brevity and directness of the original. All my fortune and all my money are near enough to one another for the purpose in hand.
Original . Now was the middle of night. when over half the world nature seems dead, and wicked8 dreams abuse8 men's minds asleep, and none but the wolf9 and the murderer is abroad. This was the time when Lady Macbeth waked to plot the murder of the king. She would not have undertaken a deed so abhorrent to her sex, but that she feared her husband's nature, that it was too full of the milk of human kindness,10 to do a contrived murder. She knew him to be ambitious, but withal to be scrupulous, and not yet prepared for that height of crime which commonly in the end accompanies inordinate ambition. She had won him to consent to the murder, but she doubted his resolution; and she feared that the natural tenderness of his disposition (more humane than her own) would come between, and defeat the purpose. So with her own hands armed with a dagger, she approached the king's bed; having taken care to ply the grooms of his chamber so with wine, that they slept intoxicated, and careless of their charge. There lay Duncan in a sound sleep after the fatigues of his journey, and as she viewed him earnestly, there was something in his face, as lie slept, which resembled her own father; and she had not the courage to proceed.11
In these conflict the mind Lady Macbeth found her husband inclining to the better part, and resolving to proceed no further. But she, being a woman not easily shaken from her evil purpose, began to pour in at his ears words which infused a portion of her own spirit into his mind, assigning reason upon reason why he should not shrink from what he had undertaken; how easy the deed was; how soon it would be over; and how the action of one short night would give to all the their nights and days to come sovereign sway and royalty!12 Then she threw contempt on his change of purpose, and accused him of fickleness and cowardice; and declared that she had given suck, and knew how tender it was to love the babe that milked her; but she would, while it was smiling in her face, have plucked it from her breast, and dashed its brains out, if she had so sworn to do it, as he had sworn to perform that murder. Then she added, how practicable it was to lay the guilt of the deed upon the drunken sleepy grooms. And with the valor of her tongue she so chastised his sluggish resolutions, that he once more summoned up courage to do the bloody business.
So, taking the dagger in his hand, he softly stole in the dark to the room where Duncan lay; and as he went, he thought he saw another dagger in the air, with the handle towards him, and on the blade and at the point of it drops of blood; but when he tried to grasp it, it was nothing but air, a mere phantasm proceeding from his own hot and oppressed brain and the business he had in hand. -- "Macbeth," in Charles and Mary Lamb, Tales from Shakespeare, Winston, 1924, pp. 151-153.
Basic . Now it was the middle of the night, when half;f the earth seems dead, and men's minds are troubled8 in their sleep,8 and no one is about but the animals of the woods9 and men with crimes to do. This was the time when Lady Macbeth was designing the death of the King. She would not have undertaken an act so shocking to a woman but for her fear that Macbeth had not a hard enough heart10 to do such a crime. She was certain that he had a great desire to become King, but he had a strong sense of what was right, and was still not ready to do crimes on the scale which is generally necessary in the end for those who have so strong a desire to be great. He had been forced by her to give approval to the violent step, but she had doubts about his decision of mind; and she had a fear that his naturally kind heart (it was softer than hers) would come between, making the purpose come to nothing. So with a knife in her hand she came near the King's bed; having taken care to let the servants of his room have so much wine that they were unconscious in sleep, without a thought for their watch. There was Duncan, sleeping well after his long journey, and looking at him with great attention, she saw that there was something in his face which was like her father; and she was kept from the cruel act.11
Lady Macbeth saw that in this trouble of mind, Macbeth was being guided by his better self, and making a decision to do no more. But she, being a woman not readily turned from her cruel purpose, now put her thoughts into strong words, causing him to be moved by the same feelings as herself and gave a number of reasons why he would be wise to go on with his undertaking; how simple the act was; how quickly it would be done; and how the events of one short night would give to all their nights and days to come the power and authority of King and Queen!12 Then she did her best to give him a sense of shame for his change of purpose, saying he was feeble and full of fear; and she said that she had given her milk to a baby, and had had the sweet experience of loving the baby which took her milk, but she would, while it was smiling in her face, have taken it from her, and given it its death-blow, if she had undertaken to do it, as he had to put the King to death. And, she went on, it would not be hard to make the sleeping servants, who were overcome by drink, seem responsible for the crime. Whipped by her angry words, his decision again became strong enough for him to go through with the cruel business.
So, taking the knife in his hand, he softly went in the dark to the room where Duncan was sleeping; and when he went, it seemed to him that he saw another knife in the air, with the blade turned from him, and on the point of it drops of blood: but when he made an attempt to take it, it was nothing but air, only a fiction caused by his heated and troubled brain and the business he had in hand. -- "Macbeth," in T. Takata, Lamb's Stories from Shakespeare put into Basic English, Kegan Paul, 1932, pp. 13-14, 15-16.
8 . Wicked and abuse have a suggestion that man's mind Is naturally against crime when not tinder the control of some bad power.
9 . Wolf. Note how this is treated in the translation. Wolf is on the basic poetry list as a useful symbol. Animals of the woods tries to catch the implication here in a compact phrase. A Basic description would turn poetry into prose and make It look silly.
10 . Not a hard enough heart. This misses the positive goodness in full of the milk of human kindness -- the great bond between men. It is unjust to Macbeth by making him seem soft. The same note is struck in soft for humane lower down.
11 . Shakespeare's Lady -- with her "Had he not resembled My father as he slept I had done 't" -- does not say that it was lack of courage that stayed her hand. Lamb interprets. The Basic version refrains. It might have supplied an alternative Interpretation with "She had not the heart to go on."
12 . Here the Basic version serves the exposition of the argument more readily.
Here below is the easiest writing yet to put into Basic -- truly simple, fully expanded narrative.
Original . They didn't realize that by means of electricity immense wheels were someday to turn smoothly, enormous weights lift easily. They had never seen a gay electric sign flashing
on and off in a spatter of green, scarlet, yellow and blue. To them electricity was a mysterious riddle, more baffling than anything of which they had ever heard. Tonight they were telling each other of how, if you wrapped a coil of wire around a piece of soft iron, you could make a magnet of it; and of how, long before, Benjamin Franklin had sent an electric current through a coiled wire seven miles in length.
Suddenly one of them, a young man, tall and handsome, began to speak with such conviction that the whole company leaned forward to catch his words.
"Why,13 gentlemen," he said, as he rose and strode up and down. the room, "I tell you, it means a revolution in the world. If I can drive an electrical impulse through a length of copper wire and send it far enough, I'll girdle the world like Puck. I'll talk with the Chain of Tartary as easily as I talk with you."
That young man was Mr. Samuel Finley Breese Morse. His family called him Finley, and his mother's name was Breese. He was the man who invented the telegraph. -- Stout, Wires Round the World, Thomas Nelson and Sons, pp. 2-3.
Basic . They had no idea that with the help of electric current great wheels would one day be turning smoothly, great weights be lifted without any trouble. They had never seen a
bright electric sign going on and off in bursts of green, red, yellow, and blue. To them, electric power was a strange new thing, the strangest thing they had ever come across. Tonight they were saying how, if you put a twist of wire round and round a bit of soft iron, it would be given the power of attraction, or, in other words, become a "magnet";14a and they were talking of how, long before, Benjamin Franklin had sent an electric current through a twisted15 wire seven miles long.
Suddenly one of them, a young man, tall and good-looking, took up the discussion with such an air of authority that all heads were bent forward to get his words.
"My friends,"13 he said, getting up and walking up and down the room, "I say that all our ways of living will be completely changed by it. If it is possible to send an electric impulse through a copper wire, and send it far-enough, I'll put a circle round the earth like Puck. I'll be talking to the Chain of Tartary with no more trouble than I am talking to you.
That young man was Mr. Samuel Finley Breese Morse. Breese was his mother's name. The name given to him by his family was Finley. He was the man responsible for the invention of the "telegraph," 14b the apparatus by which telegrams are sent. -- Stout, Wires Round the Earth in Basic English, Thomas Nelson and Sons, pp. 9-10
13 . Though why is a Basic word, this idiomatic use is beyond the understanding of a beginner, and so dropped in the Basic version.
14a , 14b . Examples of definitions inserted (14a) before and (14b) after the non-Basic word. Another alternative, too formal for either of these, is the footnote.
15 . Note how the Basic relies as content to interpret twisted here as twisted round and round or coiled.
There seems to be a certain harmony between Franklin and Basic. He would have been quick to see its uses.
Original. As a great part of our life is spent in sleep, during which we have sometimes pleasing, and sometimes painful dreams, it becomes of some consequence to obtain the one kind, and avoid the other; for whether real or imaginary, pain is pain, and pleasure is pleasure. If we can sleep without dreaming, it is well that painful dreams are avoided. If, while we sleep, we can have pleasing dreams, it is, as
the French say, tante gagne, so much added to the pleasure of life.
To this end it is, in the first place, necessary to be careful in preserving health, by due exercise, and great temperance; for, in sickness, the imagination is 'disturbed; and disagreeable. sometimes terrible ideas are apt to present themselves. Exercise should precede meals, not immediately follow them; the first promotes, the latter, unless moderate, obstructs digestion. If, after exercise, we feed sparingly, the digestion will be easy and good. the body lightsome, the temper cheerful, and all the animal functions performed agreeably. Sleep, when it follows, will be natural and undisturbed. -- "The Art of Procuring Pleasant Dreams," Works of the Late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, vol. ii, Essays, Humorous, Moral and Literary, London. printed for Longman, Hearst, Rees and Orme, 1806, p. 25.
Basic. In view of the fact that a great part of our existence is given to sleep, in which we sometimes have pleasing and sometimes troubling experiences, it becomes important to see that we have the one sort, and keep clear of the other; because, even when it has existence only in our minds, pain is pain, and pleasure is pleasure. If we may go to sleep without being conscious of anything, it is good that we are
untroubled. If, while sleeping we are able to have any pleasing experiences, it is so much more of the pleasure of existence.
To do this, it is necessary, in the first place, to take care to keep healthy, by having the muscles in good condition, and by not taking overmuch food and drink. When one is ill, the mind is troubled; and unpleasing, sometimes shocking, ideas have the tendency to come into it. The right time for physical work is before meals, not the minute alter them. The one is good for the digestion, the other, if overdone, is bad for it. If, after working our muscles, we have a small meal, digestion will be good, we will be in a happy condition of mind, and the body will have a bright, elastic feeling and will do its work without any trouble. Sleep, when it comes, will be natural and untroubled. -- C. K. Ogden, "On the Art of Sleep." Wise Words of an Early American ... from the writings of Benjamin Franklin, Kegan Paul, 1935, pp. 67-68.