Techniques In Language Control
5 . Some Ingredients of Every Man's
Good teachers have always been able to use "simple" language in examining complex ideas with their students, though a simple explanation of something difficult to understand is hard to achieve. Basic English and its relaxations into various levels of Every Man's English offer a valuable technique for the cultivation of this art. Without some such aid to language control, it is not easy to achieve such straightforward and nontechnical English as David Horrobin's introduction to the basic chemical and physical processes of the human body in his Human Organism,1 for example. A close-up of a passage near the end of the book, where Horrobin is explaining some of man's problems in the space age, may challenge our readers to test their growing understanding of the scope of Every Man's and the degree to which the author is going beyond it:
"Here we might discuss the important difference between mass and weight, . . .
Directed as his book is to the student who has no specialized training in the sciences, even a short passage from it will indicate that its nontechnical exposition is geared to the reader of better than average reading background and general education. Though it is not very far removed from Every Man's English, revising into Every Man's at certain points would allow it to reach a considerably wider public.
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Even so, close analysis of the vocabulary and syntax of the passage will show how near to Every Man's, and in some places to strict Basic, this exposition is. We suggest that you make a detailed study of the use of vocabulary and syntax in it as a specimen passage on which to exercise the principles and practices of language control we have been discussing, and that you do this before consulting the analysis which follows. You will find it useful to identify, with help where necessary, from the Basic word list :
(1) the derivatives of words on the list. Decide which of them you would admit in a widely accessible Every Man's version of the material, such as would be intelligible to second language students and beginning readers who are developing literacy through Basic.
Analysis of the vocabulary and structure used in the passage reveals :
(2) the examples of stylistic convenience and high frequency additions such as were discussed in the previous chapter. Consider which of them you would recommend retaining in the Every Man's version.
(3) the words which, in the 1970's, you see as candidates for the steady growing list of additions to Ogden's 50 international words.
(4) the residue of "extra" vocabulary items that could be postponed.3
1 . That derivatives of Basic words consist mainly of verbs, but include some names of things and qualities. They may be grouped as follows :
We may describe Every Man's English, then, as a range of the language not strictly limited in all the ways in which Basic is limited, yet so related to Basic as to benefit from the gains that scrutiny through Basic can bring to our understanding of language control. In the next chapter we will look more closely at some of the possible relaxations and the responsibilities we assume when we adopt them. But first, some of our addressees may like to explore more actively the full resources of Ogden's system.
(a) verbs which can e formed by relaxing syntactic restrictions imposed by the System upon words listed as names of things or qualities (black, cause, fall, move, pump)
The word bleeding might also be understood in this context by beginners using Basic as an entrance to wider English. The probable derivation of bleed is the same Germanic form that gives us the word blood.
(b) verbs which can be formed form roots of words listed as names of things or qualities (depends, discuss, known, weight)
(c) substantives that can be derived from names of qualities (difference, life)
(d) qualities that can be named by admitting different unrelated meanings for Basic words ( lighter to mean of less weight)
(e) qualities derived from names of things on the list (desirable)
2 . That high frequency additions and stylistic conveniences recommended by Every Man's users include :
(a) some verbs, full or auxiliary ( can, lie, should, stand)
3. That candidates for addition to words recognized as international by world dwellers in the space age are several launching, planet, rocket, universal)
(b) stylistic conveniences, specially in writing ( also, both, neither, too)
(c) names of qualities supplying opposites to other occurring on the word list (easy, heavy, large)
4 . That mass, gravitational and field -- all ably defined for the general reader is in the chapter form which this excerpt is taken -- could be explained within Every Man's and adopted in the simplified version, thereby avoiding the confusion between mass and weight, which is only exacerbated by many dictionary definitions (e.g., weight -- the measure of the heaviness or mass of an object).
5 . That the large number of Basic words used in this passage (about 80%) can be recognized as bearing some relation to the forthright handling of its topic. It is this closeness to Basic that makes one word and short-phrase substitutions possible.
The first of these in order of appearance, the word difficulty, (line 2 of the excerpt) might lead us to resist the Every Man's use of cause as a verb and rephrase the relative clause into which is frequently very hard to make clear. The phrase remains approximately constant could become keeps about the same, and the relative clause to which you are exposed could become, in Every Man's, which you have to face or meet. The definition of gravity provided by the author prior to this except, to pave the way for the use of gravitational field is very near to Basic, and can be supplied as a footnote int he Every Man's version of the passage with only small adjustment. :
"As you know we give the name 'gravity' to the force that pulls objects (Basic things) toward (in the direction of) the center (middle) of the earth."
Some Every Man's uses favor the inclusion of toward as a high frequency word of stylistic usefulness, and would probably advocate the use of it here.
6 . That word or short-phase substitutions could replace the remaining extra vocabulary items without disturbing the general structure of the passage "
limbs (arms and legs)
happen (take place)
skeleton (bones or frame)
evolved (came into being or developed)
to cope with (to work with)
You would collapse into a heap (they would give way and let you down)
supply (send blood to)
individuals (men or person or of us)
accelerate rapidly (go forward more and more quickly or at a quickly increasing rate)
reaches (goes as high as)
including his blood and his limbs (and his blood and his arms and legs)
usual (before or normally)
rush (run or go quickly or go at once)
would be unable to stand the strain (would break down)
blind (unable to see)
particularly (specially or very)
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If we simply try to go through the Basic word list without asking specific questions which will focus our interest on different words in turn and their relations with other words, the process soon becomes highly mind-numbing. Nothing has time to start without something else getting in its way. Indeed, running one's eye down the columns with no particular purpose quickly generates a fine example of teasing distraction. One the other hand the list can invite an engaging variety of games to be played that combine very worthwhile linguistic explorations with the process of becoming clearer about which words it contains. And since most of these games raise automatically what are among the most discussable and instructive of all questions about the conduct of language, they lend themselves well to classroom and study-group exercises. When they are played by groups a competitively cooperative element can appear as one member sees opportunities another may overlook.
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A great advantage of Basic for all these preliminary explorations is its limits, and indeed the word limit is there on the list to lead to such a realization, as is the word power which derives from the limited list because of selection which allow so much to be covered by the 850 head words. And because of this coverage, this defining power, the value extends to expansions from Basic into Every Man's English. Many ways of guiding such expansions can be devised. Inexperienced readers have been trained enjoyably and instructively in accurate listening, proofreading a passage in Basic, for example, against a recording which expands it into Every Man's at certain points. Such expansion from Basic is instructive and challenging when given either in class as a new exercise. Triple-spaced script allow for Every Man's rephrasing to be written neatly over the Basic script and then checked by a replaying of the sound.
(more -- a 1 page exercise)
. . . They attempt nothing more than that, and it should particularly be noted that they are not a new formulation or a new model for Basic. Any number of alluring challenges arise if we take up questions of relaxations from Basic, advisable or not in a given context for a given task.
1 . David F. Horrobin, The Human Organism, Bantam Science and Mathematics Edition, 1967.
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2 . G force (explained earlier in the chapter) : "As you know we give the name "gravity" to the force that pulls objects towards the center of the earth. Any force that produces the same amount of acceleration as the earth's gravitational field is said to have a magnitude of 1G. A force that produces twice this acceleration has a magnitude of 2G, and so on.
3 . See item 6, later in this chapter.