This page started as Webmaster's comments to Techniques In Language Control" by I. A. Richards. Some ideas there are expanded here. Some of the argument is restated and then expanded.
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 to be spent on more "things" in the real world. (1)
The "next step," after mastering Basic and being able to actively participate in routine, daily English communication, Ogden suggests expanding the idiomatic words. After this point, he considers that the verb forms will have become recognized and learned naturally without taking great quantities of class time that 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 is only 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".
(1) The Jingulu language (Aborigine) is said to have only three verbs and all other actions are made from a verb and a noun.
To sleep is "do a sleep." The Basic person will recognize this technique. What are their the verbs? Two sources have been found which differ a bit: Wiki says do, make, run while "The Story of Human Language" says : do, go, come.
Because do and make are similar, and go and come are opposites with the idea of move, which is similar to run, I suspect the minimum number of verbs could be reduced to two -- with senses of create and move.
Note: Richards, Hogben, and Longman each make a case for the expansion of Basic to include more words. I call it Basic Plus., but it is really intermediate-Basic. The thoughts of these scholars give guidance to the teacher of intermediate English for Basic persons.
Ideally, everybody in the world would speak full English accomplished with a college degree. Ogden determined the minimum required for full every day communication. all the other critiques are going away from the basics and towards the college level of full English and demanding more time to devote to learning before they can communicate.
Richards seeks Basic plus ____ words to ____ total.
Hogben suggests that is 1,500 words is needed which he calls Essential World English, 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 month, then EWE takes closer to two. Or is learning effort exponential with complexity? In that second month, a person could have learned the second-level Basic including about 60 Basic words that have verb usage, a be ahead in the game. Longman suggest 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. Ogden, with the 850 base words, 150 specialty words, 50 international, 150 second step, 350 next step and
lets say 500 complex words, idioms, and verbs takes the learner to that level.
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.
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 mainline 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 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 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 a 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 his words used in other senses that the 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.
Just be sure to recognize that Ogden's Basic is the starting point that has world recognition as the International Second Language and let the various schools of advanced Basic take their place in the progression.
A study was started comparing several scholar's thoughts on the proper vocabulary for the beginner of English. That study is available for letters A-C(?) on request and
Richard's Everyman's should be added. The conclusions stated earlier were drawn (Ogden's is simplest) and the effort dropped.
These are already Basic words : use as a verb entail dropping the Basic operator used with the noun form: gave a move to becomes "moved".
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 "next step" words :
This results in these a new words with the Basic expression in parenthesis :
depends (is dependent) , discuss (have a discussion) , known ( have 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)
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" ; "desire" is the verb of 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 specially suitable words.
The following words are exactly the same in the verb form and require minimal, if any, learning.
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 70 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, weather, chain,
hook, plow, seed, bag, box,
drain, sponge, hammer, nail, wire, fork, spoon, building, house, roof, wall,
key, sail, tax, war, account, value, credit, design, care, comfort, experience,
live, fear, fire, force, light, cool, warm, equal
This is a work-in-process which starts with the universal dictionary project word list
of Basic words in categories.
I am adding verb meanings where the root word and the verb form are identical. It would probably be smarter to just go through the whole Basic list.
When low frequency word usage is allowed, there are a lot of verbs.
For example: goat is an animal. If you bother him, he will stand looking for awhile, but if further annoyed, he will react. "To goat" is to annoy until the target is troubled. This usage is well know, but rare in necessity. It would never be worth teaching. It is mentioned to make the point that very many nouns can be used as a verb.
I suspect they are nearly half of the Basic word list.
I was challenged on this, saying the word was "goad".
goad -- (1) a pointed stick, (2) any driving impulse.
goat -- (1) the animal, (2)..., (3)..., (4) to annoy, anger, or irritate someone.
be become cause
make do have
6. BODY PARTS [n]
arm (give weapons) back (back a car)
body bone (remove bones)
chin (exercise, lift body to chin level) eye (look at) face (confront)
feather (line a nest) finger (touch) foot (walk, not ride)
hand (give) head (go towards)
knee (to the groin)
lip ( speak with an attitude)
mouth (say very quietly) nail (hammer)
neck (foreplay) nose (out, to win)
skin (an animal)
throat thumb (hitch-hike) toe (the line)
tongue (french kiss)
wing (flying) wound (violence)
seed (spread grass)
7. BODY TERMS
birth (have young)
8. ACTIVITY [v]
sleep * bite *
drink * jump * kick *
kiss * laugh * run *
smile * sneeze * swim *
taste * touch * walk *
9. ANIMALS/NATURE [n]
cat (behave independently) cow (make submissive)
dog (follow) fish (try to catch) fly (in an airplane)
monkey (play with)
snake (put thru a tight place) worm (ditto)
cork (stopper wine)
rice (cut very fine)
garden (cultivate) plant (put seed)
tree (force up a tree) cloud (cast a shadow)
field (put a team) moon (give insult)
rain (gets one wet) snow (fall of snow) star (in a play, game)
thunder (make noise) weather (survive)
12. THINGS [n]
bell (conquer) board (get on)
bottle (put into a bottle) box (ditto box) brake (stop or at least slow down)
brush (remove lint) button (force to listen)
chain (lock up) comb (straighten hair, search for)
cover (close jar) cup (make indentation)
curtain (put up on window) drain (take off liquid) fork (give)
frame (put in a __) gun (shoot ___, race an engine) hammer (pound)
hook (catch with a ___) horn (hit by a bull) key (make a lock)
knife (use __) lock (make secure) machine (manufacture parts with ___)
nail (attach with ___
needle (bother) net (catch fish)
parcel (put into bundle) pen (write) pencil (write)
cushion (protect) plate (put on coating)
plough (do farm work) pocket (keep in ___) stick (put to a with a ___)
pot (deep round vessel) (put into ___ pump (move liquid)
bag (collect) sail (travel by ___) scale (remove from fish)
scissors screw (attach with ___) sign (put up posters)
shelf (put on ___) sponge (wipe or collect with ___) spoon (move with ___)
spring (jump up as a ___) table (add or delay a decision)
wheel (move with a ___) wire (add construction with ___
coat (cover) collar (catch by the ___)
dress (put on ___ clothes)
building (make a ___) lift (take up)
floor (put on ___) roof (make a ___) wall (separate with a ___)
school (teach as in a ___)
bridge (join as with a ___) farm (do ___ work) market (sell as in a ___)
control [v] *
free (make ___)
let [v] tax (put __ on) war (make ___)
account (give an ___ of) credit (give __ to)
give [v] keep
offer (make an ___)
reward [v] * take
value (place ___ on)
17. RELIGION, MIND
hate [v] * design
hope [v] * play
act [v] *
care (give ___) interest (show ___)
comfort (give ___) judge (act like a ___)
doubt [v] * regret [v] *
experience (have an ___) love [v] * look for [v] *
fear (have ___) shame (give ___)
guide , lead [v] * desire [v] *
print (make ___ on paper)
book (record in a book) letter (write letter by letter) record (write down a ___)
order (give, place an ___) list (make a ___) secret (hide)
talk [v] * map (make ___ of)
picture (see), sign (make a ___)
name (apply a ___) voice (say, give ___) word (say word by word)
be a sign of [v], page (go to next ___)
change (make change), copy (make ___)
number (apply ___) measure [v] *
rate (say degree) rest (of ...)[??] complete (make ___)
group (make into ___) number (apply ___)
size (make to a ___) present [??] front (confront)
back (apply ___) narrow (make ___) edge (give an ___)
thin (make ___) back (go ___wards)
base, station [v] go [v] fly (through air) [v] *
come go into [v] roll [v]
come across slip [v] *
boat, road , cart, carriage, ship [travel by]
28. TIME, SEQUENCE
start [v] * time stop [v] *
winter (spend __ at) time (keep a record of ___) second (agree, ___ the minutes)
air (apply, give ___ to) ice (apply ___) sand (apply ___)
ink (apply ink, write)
chalk (apply chalk) iron (make flat,##) silver (the metal) (apply ___)
lead (the metal) (apply ___)
steam (apply ___) steel (give strength)
copper (apply) oil (apply ___) tin (the metal) ( apply ___)
dust (remove ___) paint (apply ___) water (apply ___)
paper (apply ___) wax (apply ___)
glass (apply ___) stone (throw ___)
salt (apply ___)
bread (apply ___) sugar(apply ___) butter (apply ___)
milk (get ___ from a cow) wine (___ and dine)
31. FORMS OF MATTER
arch (make an __ shape) powder (shake ___ on)
branch (make a split) line (mark a ___)
card (check ___) smoke (make ___)
circle (go round) mark (apply a ___)
curve (make a ___)
drop (put bit of liquid) parallel (go ___ to) square (make ___)
hole (make a ___) paste (apply ___) wave (___ to guests)
32. PROPERTIES : Qualities of Matter
level (make ___) smooth (make ___)
clean (make ___) dry (make ___)
open (make ___) shut (close) wet (make ___)
hollow (create a ___) loose (let ___)
33. MATTER-RELATED ACTIONS
blow burn [v] * burst [v] *
crush fold [v] * pull
push shake [v] * wash [v] *
34. MATTER/ENERGY TERMS
fire (start ___) force (use ___)
mist (create a ___) power (use ___)
see [v] light (make ___) color (add ___)
shade (create ___)
yellow (turn ___ by disease)
green (become ___ by growing) brown (make ___ by cooking)
quiet (make ___)
hear [v] whistle [v] *
cool(make ___) cook [v] *
heat (make ___) warm ( make ___)
38. ASSORTED ABSTRACT
attack [v] *
damage [v] *
detail (put ___)
equal (is the same)
right (put up ___ match (find equal)
attempt [v] * support [v] *
By introduction of the suffix : -en ; with the meaning "to make ___". This suffix is a candidate for intermediate-Basic.
Examples : harden, soften, blacken, brighten, darken, thicken, tighten, straighten,
sweeten, loosen, fatten . . .
Many words of picturable things are also a verb meaning "apply ___".
Many Basic words of quality are also a verb meaning "make ___".
Words where the verb form is embedded in the Basic word.
government > to govern
weight > to weigh
management > to manage
These have a slight stretch from the Basic word to a verb form.
danger > to endanger (to cause danger to)
simple > to simplify (to make simple)
beauty > to beautify (to give beauty)
Richards uses a stretch is find Basic words to make verb forms. Examples are : management becomes "to manage". The idea that -ment is a suffix has not been taught in Basic. (more)
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 to learners who have mastered Basic.
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.
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, but is wrong is his word selection.