Techniques In Language Control
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I was first embarrassed, then annoyed, and now slightly amused at this little book that has little relevance to Basic English with nothing new to offer. It rambles in the declining years of a once important author and poet. The following was written during my embarrassed-annoyed phase -- I will tone down my criticism later. Richards published a new book a couple of times a year. In this example, he had to publish with little to say -- he starts with a good premise made clear in his "So Much Nearer" and carries it to ridiculous extremes. His point is that many Basic words of things are also words for activities -- so use them as such. [ My qualifier, to do this after mastering basic-Basic.] Example : the noun for an attempt can be used for the verb "to attempt some feat." He gets carried away pointing out that this word is also a root for "tent, taunt, tentative" -- which is certainly far from obvious to the learner. Further he points out that prefixes extend the Basic noun attraction with con- , de- , dis- , ex- , en- , pro- . re- , sub- and others.. This bit of knowledge is not Basic which requires teaching only one prefix, un-. The book is a self-indulgent tramp through Middle English, Old French, Latin and such, is of possible interest to his academic followers, but of no earthly interest to learners and of no practical value to their teachers.
I am almost embarrassed by this book. The author says the most obvious things, but in the most complicated way imaginable. Consider this example on page 100.
"Many words, as we all know, have parts through whose cooperations they manage their meanings. Co-oper-at-ion is typically such a word. Its key meaning is "working together to some end." Its four parts have here the following meanings : co-, "with" ; -oper-. "work" ; -at-, "doing" ; -ion, "outcome." It is harder to find a good way to point to the possible meanings of parts of a word than to indicate a meaning for the whole. In somewhat the same way it is easier to say what a man is doing when chopping wood than to say what his eyes, his hands, and his legs are doing in helping him to do it. Nonetheless, he couldn't do it without quite special service from them."
To how many people is this analysis natural ? To most people co- means "one of two equal parts". Or does the word break at coop- meaning "bird house". Lets go on : -oper- comes from Latin for "work," but how many people know this ? Does -at- really say "doing" to you or would "on, in, near, by" come more quickly to mind ?.
Or is does the word break as coop-era-tion , where era is "a certain time period" and the common suffix -tion means "condition of being what has gone before." Therefore we have a more humorous analysis of : "the condition of being a chicken house of a certain period." Better is
co-oper-a-tion breaking into one of-work-not-act of. Breaking a word into its
parts is often useful to understanding, sometimes not. The intended word is
co-oper-ation => shared-work-condition. As I said, he makes a point in a difficult manner.
The author is so smart and educated that he assumes that what is commonplace to him should be known by everybody, apparently including children and migrants who happen to be important groups learning Basic. Other words then "smart and educated" might be used : "innocent, simple, without a clue" on one hand and on the other hand : "arrogant, elitist, and self-absorbed".
Why do I say that he is writing about the obvious ? Once a person learns Basic, then he is likely to go on towards full English. What path does he take ?. Ogden suggests
additional words that are valuable from the same techniques he used to select the 850 words for Basic and the same principle of concentrating on "things," what we call nouns. Every person who thinks on an introductory or minimal language has his own ideas of what is necessary -- to himself. Ogden was more rigorous is his selections ; utility was his goal.
Personally I find "can" used so frequently that I have set my spelling correction software to automatically change can to "is able to".
Virtually all critiques of Basic, either as criticism or constructive, suggest
taking advantage of the verb form of existing Basic words. Ogden's logic is that 16 verbs
of Basic can express virtually everything, so there is no reason to spend the critical and minimal learning time allowed for Basic on other forms and often irregular verbs. Better to spent time on more "things" and idioms of the real world. After learning Basic, Ogden considers that the verb forms will become recognized and learned naturally without taking great amounts of class time for learning the nuances that discriminate between verb forms. Those that are most needed in the learner's situation will be picked up in the environment of the learner. Example, Basic has the word for the person who does the work of a cook. The verb to cook, the operation of cooking, and that a person has cooked or will cook are regular and easy to understand. When is this concept of regular verbs introduced ? Is it valuable to take early class time to explain the difference between a person that is a cook and it is a vessel that is a cooker ? I agree with Ogden that there are more important, new ideas to teach and is a more efficient use of learning priority to learn new concepts then to discuss alternatives to the already taught idea of "to make a meal".
Note : Hogben makes an equally good case for a different variation of the Basic word list
that is 1,500 words -- he calls it Essential World English, I call it Basic Plus. It is 76% more complex for the learner before he can enter into normal English communication. This means greater commitment for learning (fewer learners) as well as more learning time and calendar time is required. If Basic lets a person participate in one or two months, then EWE takes closer to three or four. Or is learning effort exponential with complexity ? In those extra months, a person could have learned the second-level Basic words and about 60 Basic words that have verb usage, and be ahead in the game. Longman suggests 2,075 words with 10 prefix and 38 suffix -- a lot better than full English, but two or three times more complex that Basic -- further delaying one's participation in English society and requiring a greater commitment to get started. Hogben, Longman and others offer suggestions for further movement from beyond Basic towards full English. The instructor can profitably use these references to guide his steps -- but at this point we have left Basic and I have no special interest. In fact, Ogden says that once one has reached the 2,000 word level, he has achieved standard English and needs no further instruction, but can self-teach. This will not find acceptance by the teacher's union, but you get the idea.
Please note, Ogden takes great exception to the concept of teaching based on word frequency. He called that idea "word magic." I have a personal story to support this. Before going to Holland, we bought several books on Dutch and tried to learn the most frequently used Dutch words that had a link to English. In practice, we could understand the words in much of every sentence, but essentially nothing that was said, nor could we say anything of substance, because the major content words were not learned. These are the type of words that Ogden selected.
Richards uses a stretch is find Basic words to make verb forms. The simplest examples include : management become "to manage". The idea that -ment is a suffix has not been taught in Basic. Whereas Ogden's "things," such as "a hammer" develops quit naturally the idea "to hammer" at no cost to the learner. (more)
How natural is it to adopt the verb forms of Basic words ?
One of the Institute's efforts is to provide word processing support for Basic writers. We have had a spell checker for several years and a usable translation dictionary for a couple of years Work continues. We discovered an interesting thing -- a computer does not know the sense of a word, only that it is or is not Basic. Thus over 100 verb words (plus derivative forms) are automatically accepted (not flagged as error) in any usage of Basic words. I justify this as :
(a) A simple stretch and further learning opportunity for the learner using regularities taught in Basic English.
The teacher of Basic will, of course, have to be more rigorous in his writing, but verbal use is so natural that no notice need be given in practice.
(b) A reduction of the Basic-learning burden on the writers of media in Basic -- the target audiences of the spell checking and translation dictionaries are writers of international sections of newspapers, magazines, web pages, public documents, etc.
And (c) Will provide customary usage to the speakers of full English with even less likelihood of noticing that the work is written in Basic.
And I am inclined to agree with Ogden that nouns are easier and more useful to get a learner up into baseline English most quickly. Once the learner becomes immersed in English -- the
sooner the better -- the verb forms and nuances can be freely picked up. The selection
of words added from regular speech is taken directly from the environment and needs of
the leaner in a natural selection process -- without a laborious academic learning requirement for too many verbs all at once.
Many variants of Basic, some called Simplified English, combine the assurance of
Basic with a list of the most common nnn English words. (See BNC for a pleasant surprise.) Such Simplified English has redundancies, again with the necessity of teaching new words with minor variances of meaning. Allowing people to acquire a greater vocabulary is good if they are going to live in an English speaking world. Of course, Basic as the international second language is necessarily constrained to the vocabulary of Ogden. [as formally updated for the 21st century.]
Ogden took the approach of expanding vocabulary by adding the various English meanings to already learned Basic words. Others have suggested that every meaning should have its own word so as not to confuse the learner. However this is not the English way with words ; the learner is likely to be more confused when he finds that this larger vocabulary of words learned, are also used in other senses that the intended one taught. Ogden's way is good English, reduces confusion, and adds an additional bit of knowledge at almost no expense in learning time because the student already knows the word, its spelling, its pronunciation, and core meaning. Very efficient.
Back to my embarrassment. What this book says is that the learner can go beyond basic-Basic. Duh ? If he is writing a book recommending next steps, then he could have better just done it -- it can be done with much more clarity than he does in this book. There is a need for such a
lesson plan. And I suggest that Hogben, Richards, and Longman (in that order) have ideas to contribute to such an effort. Each writer can put forward a new name for the learning process to stamp his personal identify. In that case basic-Basic is the redundant name for "The 850". Then comes Intermediate Basic, Wider Basic, Media Basic, or whatever. Just be sure to recognize that Ogden's Basic is the starting point that has world recognition as the International Second Language. Let the various schools of teaching advanced Basic towards full English take their place in the progression.
Words Added to Make Every Man's
depends, discuss, known; difference, life ; lighter ; desirable ; bleed ;
can, lie, should, stand ; also, both, neither, too ; easy, heavy, large
launching, planet, rocket, universal
mass, gravitational , field
attend, posit, add, adjust advertise, grow, know,
serve, learn, author, busy, instruct, quest, secrete, serve, accord, consent, ponder, pension, pensive, spend
We are not sure if Richards intends the following words to be included in Every Man's. He uses them in examples. Why else to introduce them if not to be used ?
action, active, activate, activity, actor, actress, actual, actuality, actuary, actuate
enact enaction, enactment, exact, exacting, exaction
inaction, inactive, react, reaction, reactionary, reactor,
verse, versant, versatile, versed, version, versus, vertebra, vertex, vertical, vertiginous, vortex ; animadvert, universe, university, converse, perverse
artifice, artificial, artificiality
tent, taunt, tentative
tract, tractate, tractarian, tractile, traction, tractor, trait, trace, traceable. traces, trail, trailer, trailing, trawl, train, training, treat, treatise, treatment, treaty.
abstract, abstraction, attract, attraction, attractive, contract ; detract ; distract ; extract entreat ; protract, protractor, portrait ; retract, retreat ; subtract, subtraction
Where the Basic word as verb already exists, then usage as a verb simply entails dropping the Basic operator required with the noun form : Basic says , give a move to the box , but with addition of the verb form, the wording becomes : "move the box.".
Here are other results of these new words with the Basic expression in parenthesis :
depends (is dependent) , discuss (have a discussion) , known ( had knowledge) , difference ( is different) , life (be living) , desirable (have desire for) ,
bleed (making blood) , can (is able to) , lie (put down) , should (would be right to) , stand (get up) , also [second] , both [second] , neither (not one or the other) , too [second] , easy [second] , heavy [second] , large [second] , toward (to, in the direction of)
If Every Man's is supposed to be a follow-on to Basic, then several of these words just
confirm Ogden's pre-existing recommendations and are taken from his "subsequent word list :
also, both, easy, heavy , large , too, .
These words are coded "[second]" in the English to Basic IDP Translation Dictionary meaning that a writer can use these words for second level Basic learners and for general public readings.
The Every Man's list would be more clear, more general and more valuable, but continue to make more learning necessary, to teach that "to depend" is the verb form of dependent, thus is treated regularly with what one has already learned : depend, depended, depending, depends. Ogden avoided surplus verbs for this very reason of avoiding putting a learning burden for minor benefits.
Faults can be found with other of the Every Man's selections that void the clarity of Ogden. "Know" is the verb of knowledge , not "known" ; "differ" is the verb of different, not "difference" ; "live" is the verb of living, not "life" ; to "desire" is the verb of a desire, not "desirable" -- in
fact, selection of "desirable" will raise an issue of confusion with able to desire .
Ogden acknowledges about 60 words are an easy extension to verbs of
which live and desire, mentioned above, are obvious inclusions. I don't know his selection of only 60 words, I find 115 suitable words.
The following words are totally the same in the noun and verb form and require only a minimal, if any, learning effort.
This list of 47 words is taken from the Universal Dictionary Project as a starting point :
sleep, drink, kiss, smile, taste, cry, jump, laugh, sneeze, touch,
To which we can select any 13 more from the following 75 more candidates :
bite, kick, run, swim, walk, control, reward, guide, hate, hope,
lead, act, desire, doubt, regret, love, talk, sign, measure, station,
slip, roll, start, stop, burn, burst, fold, shake, wash, fly,
hear, whistle, cook, attack, damage, attempt, support.
pull, push, brush, comb, drain, move, machine, dress, farm, lift,
complete, wrong, free, blow, crush, cloud, rain, snow, offer force,
mixed, tired, building, school, market, rate, like, baby, arm, play,
leaf, root, birth, pleasure, chain, hook, plow, seed, bag, box,
drain, hammer, nail, wire, fork, spoon, building, house, roof, wall,
key, sail, tax, war, account, value, credit, design, care, comfort,
live, fear, fire, force, light, cool, warm, equal, stretch, weather,
agree, answer, amount, experience, sponge.
Many words of picturable things are also a verb meaning "put ___".
air, bread, butter, chalk, glass, ice. ink, lead, copper, oil, paint, paper, salt, sand, sugar, silver, steam, tin, water, wax,
Many words of ideas of mind are verbs meaning "have or give ___".
care, comfort, desire, doubt, fear, hate, hope, order, regret, shame, talk
Of course, many words of activities are verbs meaning "do ___".
bite, cry, drink, jump, kick, kiss, laugh, meet, run, smile, sneeze, sleep, swim, taste, touch, walk.
Many Basic words of quality are also a verb with the meaning "make ___".
arch, change, curve, hole, list, narrow, offer, straight.
Beyond the words that are directly made into verbs, there are
words where the verb form is embedded in the beginning of the Basic word.
When the learning reaches the point that suffixes -tion, -ment, -able, are mastered, then these verb usage from nouns will become obvious.
addition > to add
adjustment > to adjust
advertisement > to advertise
advertisement > to advert
amusement > to amuse
argument > to argue
attraction > to attract
dependent > to depend
desirable > to desire
different > to differ
discussion > to discuss
government > to govern
growth > to grow
knowledge > to know
learning > to learn
representative > to represent
weight > to weigh
By introduction of the suffix : -en ; with the meaning "to make ___". This suffix also becomes a candidate for intermediate-Basic.
blacken, brighten, fatten, harden, darken, loosen, thicken, tighten, soften, straighten, sweeten, . . .
I find that Richards goes too far to stretch these into Every Man's Basic, but they
give guide to teachers of new words to teach early to learners who have mastered Basic.
advertisement > to advertise (make advertisement)
approval > to approve (give approval)
attention > to attend (give attention to)
authority > to author (write [vs. be expert])
business > to be busy (doing)
instrument > to instruct (give teaching)
question > to quest (be looking for)
request > to quest (attempt to get)
secretary > to secrete (put in secret place)
servant > to serve (doing as a servant)
These are too extreme, suggested by Richards :
advertisement > verse, versant, versatile, versed, version, versus, vertebra, vertex, vertical, vertiginous, vortex ; animadvert, universe, university, converse, perverse
art > artifice, artificial, artificiality
attempt > tent, taunt, tentative
attraction > tract, tractate, tractarian, tractile, traction, tractor, trait, trace, traceable. traces, trail, trailer, trailing, trawl, train, training, treat, treatise, treatment, treaty.
attraction > abstract, abstraction, attract, attraction, attractive, contract ; detract ; distract ; extract entreat ; protract, protractor, portrait ; retract, retreat ; subtract, subtraction
control > accord , consent
dependent > ponder, pension, pensive, spend
Other words that involve stretching a little from the Basic word to a verb form.
danger > to endanger (cause danger to)
simple > to simplify (make simple)
beauty > to beautify (give beauty)
Richards "verbed up Basic" (his words) must come after Ogden's introduction of the simple use of Basic nouns as verbs. Ogden says this should come
after the 1500 word level, well after basic BASIC, call it part if "intermediate BASIC". Thus Richards' Every Man's must come after intermediate Basic. Richards is proper to name his
vocabulary something other than Basic and we compliment him for not adopting "advanced Basic" for his choice of a name.
1 . Yes, I should and will someday translate this into Basic; this is the draft to get my troubles with this book off my chest and suggest a more clear alternative.
2 . I tend to call the electronic version of Basic as "Media Basic"
(leaving "Intermediate Basic available for academic usage), because it is created by and intended for use with news and other media applications. Anyone who has learned Basic should have no trouble reading and enrich his own usage.
3 . I also freely use in Media Basic : able and full in complex words (compounds) where the usage is clear as in "able to" and "full to the top" with an extension that looks a lot like suffixes -able and -full or -ful. I hesitate at -ible, perhaps an unjustified quibble.
4. Much of this accomplishes what Richards suggests
as Every Man's Basic. So he is not wrong in his direction, in fact he starts the subject in his book "So Much Nearer" and part of his logic is in the justification for Media Basic. He has in this book, however, made the all to common mistake of expanding the wordlists to the whim of the author with the cost put on the learner and to the detriment of the simplicity of Basic English.
The initial emotions have cooled and we are now more amiable to Richards. He was an early associate of Ogden and feels comfortable making recommendations for its improvement. Some work, others do not. At the least
we can accept his additional words are a well considered list next step words -
a Second or Third Supplement to be taught as the next-Next Step beyond Basic English towards full English. There is merit in his selections, I can
recognize some words are the result of translation from English to Basic -- I have found the same words in my work in translation that he has found in his work. Because he has given considerable time to Basic, we will consider that the new words he introduces to be valid third or forth step vocabulary after basic Basic. We also acknowledge other good sources for teachers to consider are Hogben and Simple English. We provide four such lists and will have to eliminate the redundancies and order the words by priority someday. Until then
the teacher can pick and chose.
< back Contents
- Ogden's Basic English 850 words.
- International Words (50+12+12+50) that do not need teaching -- there are more in today's international world.
- Common time and numbers (50)
- Complex words by combining Basic Words (0 words) [Ogden gives a few examples, the actual is dozens.]
- General Special Words -- one of three lists of 100 words in an area of interest.
- Speciality Words -- one of several lists of 50 words for employment.
- Ogden's First Addendum of 150 common animals, plants, and foods.
- First Supplement - 350 words selected using the same technique as for the 850.
- Sixty verbs made directly from Basic Nouns. (115 words)
- Richards from English through Pictures, book 3. (c140 words)
- Richards Everyman's English, "Techniques of Language Control" (48+?88 words)
* Richards list combining the above two lists (??? words.
- Hogden from "Essential World English".
- Simple English.
* The overlap between these four lists is ??? words
resulting in ??? unique words/roots; many are synonyms which Ogden
strived to avoid.
* Comparative table.