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Basic English

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Basic English (C. K. Ogden) 1932
(British American Scientific Commercial English)

Basic English, is a simplified version of Standard English. It limits the vocabulary to only 850 and makes use of the smallest number of necessary grammatical formulas for the clear communication of ideas.
The idea behind the simplification of the vocabulary is that almost every word can be defined by other words which are used and re-used to define other words, these words are therefore the founding blocks of Basic English. The result is the 850 words and, the grammatical formulas which ruled their use to a limited range.

There are three main classes of words in the list: 600 nouns/substantive, including 400 general use nouns and 200 others which can be pictured. Also 150 qualifiers (or ‘adjectives"), which can be learnt in pairs of opposites, e.g. "first-last," "early-late." etc. Basic English limits the verbs to less than two dozen, 18 to be exact, 16 of them are basic motions plus the auxiliary verbs "be" and "have".

Problems with Basic English
It gives advantage to people whose mother tongue is Standard English. Since it is still English it carries the stigma of its Imperial colonialist past. Its phrasal verbs hide the complexity of meanings in familiar guise: "get up, get out, get over, get going". The verbosity of defining terms not within the 850 words adds to the possibility of miscomprehension.

 

King James
Authorized Version
(Mark 10:21-24)

Basic New Testament

(Mark 10:21-24)

</td>

New World Translation
of the Holy Scriptures,
rev. 1984
(Mark 10:21-24)
</td> </tr>

 </td> 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him. One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell what

soever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples wewre astonished at his words.
24 But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!</td>

21 And Jesus, loking on him, and loving him, said, There is one thing needed: go, get money for your

goods, and give it to the poor, and you will have wealth in heaven: and come with me.
22 But his face became sad at the saying, and he went away sorrowing: for he was one who had much property.

23 And Jesus, looking round about, said to his disciples, How hard it is for those who have wealth to come into the kingdom of God!
24 And the disciples were full of wonder at his words. But Jesus said to them again, Children, how hard it is for those who put faith in wealth to come into the kingdom of God!</td>

21 Jesus looked upon him and felt love for him and said to him: "One thing is missing about

you: Go, sell what things you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come be my follower."


22 But he grew sad at the saying and went off grieved, for he was holding many possessions.
23 After looking around Jesus said to his disciples: "How difficult a thing it will be for those with money to enter into the kingdom of God!
24 But the disciples gave way to surprise at his words. In response Jesus again said to them: "Children, how difficult a thing it is to enter inte the kingdom of God!</td>

</tr>

 </td>

 
(Acts 4:32)
</td>

 
(Acts 4:32)
</td>

 
(Acts 4:32)
</td> </tr>

 </td>

<p>32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of them

that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.


[...]


34 Neither was there anyt among them that lacked: for as many as were possesors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. </td>

<p>32 And all those who wewre of the faith were one in heart and soul: and not one of them said

that any of the things which he had was his property only; but they had all things in common.


[...]


34 And no one among them was in need: for everyone who had land or houses, exchanging them for money , took the price of them, and put it at the feet of the Apostles for distribution to everyone as he had need. </td>

32 Moreover, the multitude of those who had believed had one heart and soul, and not even one would say

that any of the things he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common.

33 Also, with great power the apostles continued giving forth the witness concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and undeserved kindness in large measure was upon them all.
34 In fact, there was not one in need among them; for all those who were possessors of fields or houses would sell them and bring the values of the things sold.</td> </tr> </table>

.

KJV and Basic English quoted as published in:
"The Loom of Language", by F. Bodmer auth., L Hogben ed., 1944  


Babel Text in Basic English

Genesis 11:1-9

1 And all the earth had one language and one tongue. 2 And it came about that in their wandering from the east, they came to a stretch of flat country in the land of Shinar, and there they made their living-place. 3 And they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks, burning them well. And they had bricks for stone, putting them together with sticky earth. 4 And they said, Come, let us make a town, and a tower whose top will go up as high as heaven; and let us make a great name for ourselves, so that we may not be wanderers over the face of the earth.

5 And the Lord came down to see the town and the tower which the children of men were building. 6 And the Lord said, See, they are all one people and have all one language; and this is only the start of what they may do; and now it will not be possible to keep them from any purpose of theirs. 7 Come, let us go down and take away the sense of their language, so that they will not be able to make themselves clear to one another. 8 So the Lord God sent them away into every part of the earth; and they gave up building their town. 9 So it was named Babel, because there the Lord took away the sense of all languages; and from there the Lord sent them away over all the face of the earth.

-- From "Basic Old Testament", The Bible In Basic English, Cambridge University Press, London and New York, 1949


The idea of a world literature, which Herder and Goethe conceived essentialy from the point of view of art, has now gained even greater importance from the point of view of science. For, of the things that mankind possesses in common, nothing is so truly universal and international as science. Now al communication and propogation of science uses the means supplied by language, and so the internationality of science irresistably demands the internationality of language. If we consider that today numerous scientific works, particularly textbooks, are translated into twelve or more foreign languages, then we understand what an immense quantity of labour could be saved, if everywhere on the globe books could be as generaly understood as, for example, musical notes or tables of logarithms.


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