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Basic English

Basic English is a simplified English language created by Charles Kay Ogden[?] and described in his book Basic English: A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar (1930).

One criticism of basic English is that in order to reduce word count, it uses large numbers of idiomatic expressions which are non-obvious to non-native English speakers. For example the term "make good" is used for "succeed" while the term "make bad" is not used for "fail." English relies heavily on idioms, of which there are about 4000 presently recognized by most idiom dictionaries - requiring nearly 2000 words, more than twice the vocabulary of Basic English, to define. A counter-argument is that English speakers will eventually need to learn this larger vocabulary, and the idioms, at some point, so little or no harm is done by introducing asymmetric idioms early on.

Another criticism is that it is a form of linguistic imperialism, because it attempts to make English, and by extension, Anglophone cultures, into the default international culture. It also preserves other irregularities of the English language in the interest of backward compatibility.

A third criticism is that it is not as effective as E-Prime at enabling non-judgemental communication, since "to be" is permitted but other words required to indicate states of being (e.g. "equals", "become") are not.

The good part is that it is at least a doorway into English, an important natural language.

Ogden said that it would take: seven years to learn English, seven months for Esperanto, and seven weeks for Basic English.

To give you a feel for Basic English, we attempted to write the rest of the article in Basic English.

Basic English is used by companies who need to make complex books for international use, and by language schools that need to give people some knowledge of English in a short time.

Ogden did not put into Basic English words that could be said with a few other words, and worked to make the words work in any country. He put his set of words through a large number of tests and adjustments. He also made the grammar simpler, but tried to keep the grammar normal for English users.


Table of contents

Rules of grammar Ogden's rules of grammar for Basic English help people use the 850 words to talk about things and events in a normal way.

  1. Make plurals with an "S" on the end of the word. If there are special ways to make a plural word, such as "ES" and "IES," use them.
  2. There are four wordends to change each of the 300 nouns: -"ER" and -"ING", and the two adjective wordends, -"ING" and -"ED".
  3. Make qualifiers from adverbs with the wordend -"LY".
  4. Talk about amounts with "MORE" and "MOST." Use and know -"ER" and -"EST."
  5. Make opposite adjectives with "UN"-
  6. Make questions with opposite word order, and "DO".
  7. Operators and pronouns conjugate as in normal English.
  8. Make combined words from two nouns (for example "milkman" or "wordend") or a noun and a directive (sundown).
  9. Measures, numbers, money, months, days, years, clock time, and international words are in English forms.
  10. Use the words of an industry or science. For example, in this grammar, some special words are for teaching languages, and not part of Basic English: grammar, plural, conjugate, noun, adjective, adverb, qualifier, operator, pronoun, and directive.

Word List These are the 850 core words of Basic English.

OPERATIONS - 100 words

come, get, give, go, keep, let, make, put, seem, take, be, do, have, say, see, send, may, will
about, across, after, against, among, at, before, between, by, down, from, in, off, on, over, through, to, under, up, with, as, for, of, till, than,
a , the, all, any, every, no, other, some, such, that, this, I , he, you, who,
and, because, but, or, if, though, while, how, when, where, why,
again, ever, far, forward, here, near, now, out, still, then, there together, well
almost, enough, even, little, much, not, only, quite, so, very, tomorrow, yesterday
north, south, east, west, please, yes.

THINGS - 400 General words

account, act, addition, adjustment, advertisement, agreement, air, amount, amusement, animal, answer, apparatus, approval, argument, art, attack, attempt, attention, attraction, authority, back, balance, base, behavior, belief, birth, bit, bite, blood, blow, body, brass, bread, breath, brother, building, burn, burst, business, butter, canvas, care, cause, chalk, chance, change, cloth, coal, color, comfort, committee, company, comparison, competition, condition, connection, control, cook, copper, copy, cork, cotton, cough, country, cover, crack, credit, crime, crush, cry ,current, curve, damage, danger, daughter, day, death, debt, decision, degree, design, desire, destruction, detail, development, digestion, direction, discovery, discussion, disease, disgust, distance, distribution, division, doubt, drink, driving, dust, earth, edge, education, effect, end, error, event, example, exchange, existence, expansion, experience, expert, fact, fall, family, father, fear, feeling, fiction, field, fight, fire, flame, flight, flower, fold, food, force, form, friend, front, fruit, glass, gold, government, grain, grass, grip, group, growth, guide, harbor, harmony, hate, hearing, heat, help, history, hole, hope, hour, humor ice, idea, impulse, increase, industry, ink, insect, instrument, insurance, interest, invention, iron, jelly, join, journey, judge, jump, kick, kiss, knowledge, land, language, laugh, law, lead, learning, leather, letter, level, lift, light, limit, linen, liquid, list, look, loss, love, machine, man, manager, mark, market, mass, meal, measure, meat, meeting, memory, metal, middle, milk, mind, mine, minute, mist, money, month, morning, mother, motion, mountain, move, music, name, nation, need, news, night, noise, note, number, observation, offer, oil, operation, opinion, order, organization, ornament, owner, page, pain, paint, paper, part, paste, payment, peace, person, place, plant, play, pleasure, point, poison, polish, porter, position, powder, power, price, print, process, produce, profit, property, prose, protest, pull, punishment, purpose, push, quality, question, rain, range, rate, ray, reaction, reading, reason, record, regret, relation, religion, representative, request, respect, rest, reward, rhythm, rice, river, road, roll, room, rub, rule, run, salt, sand, scale, science, sea, seat, secretary, selection, self, sense, servant, sex, shade, shake, shame, shock, side, sign, silk, silver, sister, size, sky, sleep, slip, slope, smash, smell, smile, smoke, sneeze, snow, soap, society, son, song, sort, sound, soup, space, stage, start, statement, steam, steel, step, stitch, stone, stop, story, stretch, structure, substance, sugar, suggestion, summer, support, surprise, swim, system, talk, taste, tax, teaching, tendency, test, theory, thing, thought, thunder, time, tin, top, touch, trade, transport, trick, trouble, turn, twist, unit, use, value, verse, vessel, view, voice, walk, war, wash, waste, water, wave, wax, way, weather, week, weight, wind, wine, winter, woman, wood, wool, word, work, wound, writing, year

THINGS - 200 Picturable words

angle, ant, apple, arch, arm, army, baby, bag, ball, band, basin, basket, bath, bed, bee, bell, berry, bird, blade, board, boat, bone, book, boot, bottle, box, boy, brain, brake, branch, brick, bridge, brush, bucket, bulb, button, cake, camera, card, cart, carriage, cat, chain, cheese, chest, chin, church, circle, clock, cloud, coat, collar, comb, cord, cow, cup, curtain, cushion, dog, door, drain, drawer, dress, drop, ear, egg, engine, eye, face, farm, feather, finger, fish, flag, floor, fly, foot, fork, fowl, frame garden, girl, glove, goat, gun, hair, hammer, hand, hat, head, heart, hook, horn, horse, hospital, house, island, jewel, kettle, key, knee, knife, knot, leaf, leg, library, line, lip, lock, map, match, monkey, moon, mouth, muscle, nail, neck, needle, nerve, net, nose, nut, office, orange, oven, parcel, pen, pencil, picture, pig, pin, pipe, plane, plate, plough/plow, pocket, pot, potato, prison, pump, rail, rat, receipt, ring, rod, roof, root, sail, school, scissors, screw, seed, sheep, shelf, ship, shirt, shoe, skin, skirt, snake, sock, spade, sponge, spoon, spring, square, stamp, star, station, stem, stick, stocking, stomach, store, street, sun, table, tail, thread, throat, thumb, ticket, toe, tongue, tooth, town, train, tray, tree, trousers, umbrella, wall, watch, wheel, whip, whistle, window, wing, wire, worm .

QUALITIES - 100 General

able, acid, angry, automatic, beautiful, black, boiling, bright, broken, brown, cheap, chemical, chief, clean, clear, common, complex, conscious, cut, deep, dependent, early, elastic, electric, equal, fat, fertile, first, fixed, flat, free, frequent, full, general, good, great, grey/gray, hanging, happy, hard, healthy, high, hollow, important, kind, like, living, long, male, married, material, medical, military, natural, necessary, new, normal, open, parallel, past, physical, political, poor, possible, present, private, probable, quick, quiet, ready, red, regular, responsible, right, round, same, second, separate, serious, sharp, smooth, sticky, stiff, straight, strong, sudden, sweet, tall, thick, tight, tired, true, violent, waiting, warm, wet, wide, wise, yellow, young .

QUALITIES - 50 Opposites

awake, bad, bent, bitter, blue, certain, cold, complete, cruel, dark, dead, dear, delicate, different, dirty, dry, false, feeble, female, foolish, future, green, ill, last, late, left, loose, loud, low, mixed, narrow, old, opposite, public, rough, sad, safe, secret, short, shut, simple, slow, small, soft, solid, special, strange, thin, white, wrong .


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