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Basic English is an attempt to give to every one a second, or international language, which will take as little of the learner's time as possible.
It is a system in which everything may be said for all the purposes of everyday existence : the common interests of men and women, general talk, news, trade, and science.
To the eye and ear it will not seem in any way different from normal English, which is now the natural language or the language of the Governments of more than 500,000,000 persons.
There are only 850 words in the complete list, which may be clearly printed on one side of a bit of note-paper. But simple rules are given for making other words with the help of those in the list ; such as designer, designing, and designed, from design, or coal-mine from coal and mine.
The word order is fixed by other short rules, which make it clear from an example such as
" I will put the record on the machine now "
what is the right and natural place for every sort of word.
Whatever is doing the act comes first ; then the time word, such as will ; then the act or operation (put, take, or get) ; then the thing to which something is done, and so on.
It is an English in which 850 words do all the work of 20,000, and has been formed by taking out everything which is not necessary to the sense. Disembark, for example, is broken up into get off a ship. I am able takes the place of I can ; shape is covered by the more general word form ; and difficult by the use of hard.
By putting together the names of simple operations -- such as get, give, come, go, put, take -- with those for directions like in, over, through, and the rest, two or three thousand complex ideas, like insert which becomes put in, are made part of the learner's store.
Most of these are clear to everyone. But in no other language is there an equal chance of making the use of this process. That is why Basic is designed to be the international language of the future.
In addition to the Basic words themselves, the learner has, at the start, about fifty words which are now so common in all languages that they may freely be used for any purpose. Examples are radio, hotel, telephone, bar, club.
For the needs of any science, a short special list gets the expert to a stage where international words are ready at hand
Those who have no knowledge of English will be able to make out the sense of a radio talk, or a business letter, after a week with the word-list and the records ; but it may be a month or two before they are talking and writing freely.
In fact, it is the business of all internationally-minded persons to make Basic English part of the system of education in every country, so that there may be less chance of war, and less learning of languages -- which, after all, for most of us, are a very unnecessary waste of time.
From appendix of Arms and the Man by G. B. Shaw as translated into
Basic English by L.W. Lockhart.
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Last updated March 20, 2012.