|"An article on another page of this issue tells more abut the Basic English described by a writer in this journal yesterday. The word 'Basic' was then explained to be made up of the first letters of British-American-Scientific-International-Commercial; but those initials happen to make up a very suitable word, for this English to clearly basic also in the sense of being fundamental or essential, in the architectural or chemical use. It is the simple English on which the more elaborate is built, the English that is necessary to the language as a means of communications. Basic English is not a new form of English. Its 850 words are chosen because they are the simplest and the most often needed; and its rules are the simplest rules for putting the words into their right places. To put words into their right places is easier in English, we are told, than in any other language, because of 'the natural structure of normal English.' It is usual to regard English as a very difficult language. A great deal of its difficulty obviously comes from its spelling ... Our correspondent yesterday mentioned another cause of difficulty -- the complex structure and changing forms of the verb. With that last difficulty diminished by the selection of word and by the rules, English becomes the simplest of modern languages and the most easily learned by foreigners. Being, moreover, a living language, in constant use and growth and already known to many hundreds of millions, it is both fitter and more likely than any dead language revived, or any new language made up for the purpose, to become the international language. If English in a simple form, such as this Basic English, were generally learned in all foreign-speaking countries each interest -- politics, trade, science, the cinema, and what not -- would be able to build up on that foundation, or rather to set growing from that root, the English that it needed; and in no long time English might become the universal means of easy international communication, in which some see the greatest power for the future peace and prosperity of the world.|
|What new strength and wealth might be brought to the language by such world-wide exercise is a speculation too high for the present. It is much more important to keep the vision on the ground and to take humble note of the next step. The care of the purity and the power of the language would still remain in the English-speaking countries; and it is there that a sound knowledge of the 'principles of Basic would be most needed. Those principles are two -- to know our meaning, and to state it as simply as possible ... The recently published English version of an official diplomatic text contained this sentence; 'The unity of views of the participants in the conversations has been established regarding the exceptional importance at the present time of an effective realization of an all-embracing collective organization of security on the basis of the indivisibility of peace.' No man of letters could have written that sentence, except in jest. It is not English, and, although the original may conceal in its jargon some meaning which those who understand that jargon might guess, a language of that kind can never become a means of direct communications between the men and women of one race and the men and women of another race. The value of English as an international language depends upon the extent to which its simplicity and precision can rid the world of that kind of mental mist, and can express thought and fact clearly. It is not, then, upon foreign nations alone that the future of Basic English depends. For their own sake, as well as for that of foreign learners, English-speaking people would do well to keep their own English as near as possible to the simplicity and the precision of Basic English."|
|From "The New York times," July 5, 1935.|
|"But while Esperanto will win some arguments, it is more doubtful whether it will win enough converts. In recent years interest has been shifting to 'Basic English.' that ingenious scheme by which foreigners may express themselves in a total vocabulary of 850 English words."|
About this Page: Value -- "The Value of Basic English". Article from The Times, London, June 12, 1935.