Techniques In Language Control
4 . The Relation of Basic to Every Man's English
It seems appropriate to open this chapter with a recounting of that ingenious old definition of a catalyst with which we concluded the volume, Learning Basic English. Here it is, and as you will see, the retelling is done in Basic.
"A certain Sheik had three sons, good young men of some learning. On his deathbed he sent for them and made a division among them of all he had. One half of his property he gave to the oldest, one third to the second, and a ninth part to the youngest son. And with that his days on earth came to an end.
"But when the sons would make a division of their father's goods they were in great trouble. The Sheik had seventeen camels (long-necked animals of the sand-wastes, which are able to go a long time without water). The three were at a' complete loss, till help came to them from a wise old friend of the family. He sent them his only camel to make eighteen. Then the first son took nine of the camels, the second six and the third two, after which they sent back the eighteenth camel to their father's-friend. The eighteenth camel was a catalyst."
You will agree that even if the eighteenth camel did not enable the sons to arrive at a division of goods exactly as laid down by the aged Sheik, it showed them a way to solve their problem. For all practical purposes, none is as close as you can come to half of seventeen live animals. We suggest for Basic the role of the eighteenth camel. It can open a way to the solving of many a problem of communication -- if at any point where it has done its work we set it aside.
The new role for Basic would in no way jeopardize the value of Ogden's system ;rather it would greatly enhance its usefulness. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with its development as a much needed world auxiliary language or to detract from the body of specialist writings and teaching aids already available in it, but its services can and should be vastly expanded. For Basic is a living thing, a planting that will grow. Not only is there no wall shutting it off from the rest of English ; it actually invites healthy growth. This will become clearer as its relation to varieties of Every Man's English is examined here.
Techniques of language control needed for very early . . . (more) . . .
Nor does fourth grade level do much more than suggest . . . (more) . . .
A concentrated minimal defining vocabulary designed to . . . (more) . . .
Too many of us have remained so halting and naive in . . . (more) . . .
This student's relaxations all fell within the part of the . . . (more) . . .
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, . . . (more) . . .
We shall be considering some of these key words in later . . . (more) . . .
Addressers who are interested in verbal expression will very quickly . . .
For adult literates, writing is easier to control than speech. Try . . .
Third graders in both urban and rural school systems who . . .
The account of Beebe's invention of the "bathysphere" . . .
Observations of underwater life that follow deepen the . . .
In contrast, much of text book reading in the grades at present . . .
Techniques of language control such as we propose can . . .
His own recollection of formative years in the border country . . .
For writing at simple language levels drawn from the lives and . . .
There are consequently further ends beyond elucidation of . . .
In this work Basic has certain advantages as already pointed out . . .
Basic has the word thought on its list but, as we have . . .
Where Basic and Every Man's are being introduced, the same ten sentences could be used also as a check of accuracy, by asking at what points if any, besides the use of the verb think Basic is relaxed into Every Man's English. a mastery of Basic as a system can in fact put accuracy within the reach of a shaky speller or a stumbling reader without the deadening effect of rote memorizing and routine drills, and the study of expansions into varieties of Every Man's can focus the attention profitably as needed, on word roots and morphological elements with great economy of time and effort to provide a working model of the full language.7
"The Basic words are like keys which will take their place in . . . (more) . . .
An hour or so a week reserved for this kind of cultivation . . .
What is readily observable, even without the evidence . . .
Take for example varieties of short exercises such as the . .
On a topic concerning uses of the verb to see -- a Basic "operator" as our addressees will recall -- the first question asked the pupils to write a statement about something they could see. The second quoted one of the answers, saying, "This is one of yesterday's answers. do you see what it is saying?" The third question was as follows : 'Consider the possible for the same person to answer truthfully 'yes' or 'no' to such a question.".
Here are some samples of sixth grade and ninth grade replies, as reported later at a national conference on reading.
Sixth Grade Answers
Martin : He might mean that when a cat is around you can see it. [This boy seems to have seen two possible interpretations of the question, but he did not hold both possibilities before his mind long enough to manage a full explanation.]
Sturgis : A person can see a cat in his imagination and not with his eyes. [The alternatives Sturgis perceives represent two different ways of "seeing."]
Sally : You can answer "yes" or "no" because "see" means "see with eyes" or "understand." You don't have to understand a cat.
Most of the sixth graders were too preoccupied with recent discoveries about "see" to bother about the possibilities of "can" in the sentence. The same preoccupation was common in the ninth grade, but a greater proportion of the latter escaped it. .
Ninth Grade Answers
The muddled and bewildered answers are even more interesting . . .
Lorenz : A person can answer :yes" and "no" truthfully because the . . .
William : I can answer "yes" or "no" to the question "Can I see a cat? because . . .
Susie : One might see the words, "a cat" written or he might see the actual animal.
Ellen : . . .
Emily : . . .
Elizabeth: I can answer"yes" or "no" to the question because when . . .
"Can," our addressees will recall, is an addition to Basic . . .
George : . . .
Wyatt : . . .
Similar blurrings are excluded from Basic by the postponement of want, thus avoiding the child's I want substitute for "May I have" and encouraging in restatement exercises discriminations between needing something and a feeling that you have a need, etc. Equally probing can be challenges to restate must and should and ought to in a variety of contexts before admitting those useful words into Every Man's expansions.
William Empson, in a radio talk on Basic and Poetry, chooses to . . .
It is a little hard to keep Basic and Poetry separate from Basic and Education ; . . .
But first, why did I say that keeping within the Basic words . . .
That is Wordsworth, and in Basic, and good poetry ; we will come . . .
Or you might say that it is not possible to have poetry without verbs. . . .
She is waiting for everybody. She is waiting for every man from his . . .
Now one thing is quite clear. It is no use your saying that take wing for her and put to scorn, in this verse, have only got the . . .
Still, our use of Basic here is not for writing poetry, but for . . .
The other point is maybe of more interest to writers in Basic than to poetry readers. Scorn is not in the list, and to give the sense of this verse in Basic you have to get round "put to scorn.". . . . (more) . . . you are sent on to the important questions about the poetry. So this process makes the structure of the poetry much clearer.
1 . I.A. Richards, Design for Escape, Harvest Book, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc, New York, 1968, Appendix.
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2 . "How to Write better, speak better," Readers' Digest, W.W. Norton, New York, 1972.
3 . See Christine M. Gibson and I.A. Richards, O.E.D. Cooperative Research project No. 5,0642, Harvard University, 1964-1965. " Dev...
4 . Charles . . .
5 . The Sea and Its Living Things, . . .
6 . See I.A.Richards, Design for Escape, . . .
7 . Exercises to accompany English through Pictures, Book II . . .
8 . A.P. Rossiter, Statement and Suggestion, . . .