Ogden's Basic English Institute Forum

Selected Letters - 2006

    I have recently moved to the Linux environment and can't use the IDP dictionary (or don't have the time to learn how to install it). So my solution--as others might find helpful--was to unzip IDP.zip and simply open it (romain.txt) in the Firefox web browser. Firefox's "find:" box sits in a bar at the bottom (not a pop-up like IE), so it's unobtrusive. And its quick "find as you type" function is instantaneous, even on such a large list. Just a tip for others in my boat. I am an ESL/EFL educator and translate a lot of my work into Basic or near Basic. [This is from an ESL/EFL educator who translates a lot of his work into Basic or near Basic. ]

    What are you using for the text editor : Mozilla / SeaMonkey or a feature of Firefox of which I am not aware?
        As a result of your tip, I've found that my text editor, EditPad Lite, allows multiple open documents with a "Search all open documents" option -- thus finding the word in both the text and translation list. Thanks.

    We are a publishing house in Dusseldorf . . .
    I am a publisher from Buenus Aries . . .
    We publish educational media in Tel Aviv . . .
    Who owns the copyright? May we use the Basic English texts of Ogden? These three from the last three months.
        One of the reoccuring questions we get is who owns the copyrights to Basic English.
        We have never tried to untangle the ownership of Ogden's books. Basic English and most or all of his works on that subject seem to have been copyrighted to The Orthological Institute.
        The original publishers and organizations have merged or gone out of business and some people have the idea the British government via Ministry of Education's administration of the Basic English Foundation (1947-1960?s). had inherited them, but Dr. J. A. Lauwerys, Chairman of the Basic English Foundation (and possibly the last director of the Orthological Institute) assures us this is not so. http://ogden.basic-english.org/isl131.html
        We also know that "The Basic Dictionary of Science", Macmilllan Company New York, Copyright © The Orthological Institute, 1965, and "Basic English: International Second Language" was published by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York. Copyright © 1968 by Orthological Institute. This may be the last book published by that Institute.
        "C.K.Ogden: a bio-bibliographic study" by W. Terrence Gordon, 1990, credits the Basic English Foundation, 1988, and does not credit the Orthological Institute. The date of dissolution of the Orthological Institute, if ever, and the ownership of its copyrights is not known to us. W.T. Gordon -- Professor Emeritus (and prolific author), Dalhousie Univ, Nova Scotia, (b.1942-d.____) http://www.getcited.org/mbrx/PT/1/MBR/10003132 -- also arranged the re-publication of several of Ogden's Basic English works as a set and credits copyright to Routledge / Thoemmes Press, 1994.
        Our founding goal was to preserve Ogden's works for current developers and offer a means of exchange for spreading Basic in the 21st Century. Our being not-for-profit places us in a different category as to usage of the original works than commercial publishers.

        I´m attaching an article I´ve found researching about Basic English. It appears to be an expansion. I´d like to know what you think about it...   [This is from an international publisher interested in adding Basic.]
        I have had many long e-mails with ___ who runs the World Language Program. He is a follower of Chomsky rather than Ogden.
    Perhaps the biggest distinction is that he is attempting to change spelling with a new alphabet.
    Ogden rejected spelling as too big a bite for the public to accept. Let alone a greater step to a new alphabet. His goals were international communications, not reform of English.
    Ogden made Basic both easy and totally transparent with full English. There is no change and no unlearning in Basic. A person using a new spelling or new grammar will appear ignorant to society and Ogden makes the world-wide learner of Basic fully functioning in 850 words. We agreed that Basic is the first step to a world language. Ogden has a progression for users going on in English that gives 2,000 words and 65 verbs that he considers the threshold of full English at which point the learner can progress on his own. They is concerned with many other issues to which Ogden and the Institute are not involved. Ogden. The Institute will enthusiastically incorporate regularizations of spelling, grammar, and language features as they occur in mainstream society, but we will not lead such change.
        (We have enough trouble with readers who insist on either English or American spelling.)
    If your personal interests are spelling reform, we discuss it at
    and the conversation with ___ sparked us to look into phonetic spelling aids to learning English. Existing phonetics seem much to scientifically complex to be useful for common usage. To see what we think is an appropriately simple methodology that balances minimal change and maximum benefit at
        I think your position is very correct, no doubt about it.
        Have you dealt at all with Globish? BBC had a special on it, here an article: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/21/features/Blume22.php This is Jean-Paul Nerriere website: http://www.jpn-globish.com/ Much of what he says is classic Ogden/Richards, plus bit of Special English/VoA, but he has caught the attention of the media, in France and beyond.   [This is from an international educator who writes articles about Basic English.]
        Yes, I have run across Globish and have given it no attention. It is 1500 misspalled words. The home page is not in G-English, but French; doesn't the language work? It is one more imitation of Basic. Everybody thinks they can improve Basic (even me) and wants to put forward their ideal language and not give any credit to the original intellect that presented the idea, the unassuming C.K.Ogden.     Globish contains a 1500 word vocabulary with a new system of spelling. It is not acceptable in normal English usage and gets no additional consideration here. I have devoted time to Essential World English, VOA SE, Everyman’s English, Longmans, and Simple English. Hogden [EWE], in my humble opinion, did not have his act together when he published his book and did not receive enough attention to continue to polish his ideas. Richards [EE] later become totally unrealistic and disappointing
        Simple English has much more chance and we embrace it as an option of intermediate teachers and for specialized users. It is "Basic Plus". Where "Plus" is whatever the individual organizational situation requires. The foundation of Basic assures that everything can be expressed. The Plus takes two directions.   One is a simple continuation of Ogden's general and specific Special words lists, gneral 100 and specific 50. If one's need is for quality inspection of aircraft being outsourced to Indonesia then the common language is Basic plus the words uniquely required for communication about aircraft and about quality. A simple and fully compatible extension of BASIC !!! In another example : teaching English to the 12 million illegal Mexican migrants to the USA, would have a very large base of dual Spanish-American "international" words that is able to speed learners along the path to full English.
        The second approach to Plus is to make Basic more English-like. A key point here is that extending Basic comes after Basic BASIC. Ogden has another 500 words plus 50 verbs (I count 80) as the next step. Please note that computerized creation of English cannot detect the difference between noun and verb use of the identically spelled word, so that the introduction to media of expanded verb usage is automatic.
        Richards acts like he invented the idea and calls it Everyman's. Ogden tells us about expanding verbs, but says that learning the next 500 nouns is more important than removing the learner's continual practice with simple verbs and prepositions, rather than adding the a new subject of greater verb-land.) Richards allows all suffixes and irregular forms that will not be recongized by the learner.. Ogden never expands his suffix list. We recommend adding a few more when extending beyond Basic.
        The next variation is VOA Special English which may have been derived from Basic, but not nearly as much as it should have. VOASE is NOT suitable for everyday use. Its 1500 words are oriented to international news, not everyday living. And it and other people's 1500 word vocabularies increase learning time by three quarters. However, VOASE is a valuable source of hearing spoken English and as such their vocabulary can be considered as another, alternative "next step" towards full English.   A third variation is to make use of the most common (frequent) words. Introduction of "can" and "know" make Basic more fluid. I spent Janaury'06 working on Simple English.
        Simple English is undefined, even though the idea had been round for decades. It has been defined roughly as Basic plus high frequency words. My interest was sparked to define the ideas of Simple by way of Simple Wikipedia http://simple.wiki.org . Again, the rules are mentioned in generalities, not specifics. No amount of high sounding words and grand goals can replace a concrete wordlist in discussing a language. Simple English does not have a wordlist. We tried to determine the criteria for such. Simple English is defined (ill-defined) by Simple Wiki as BASIC at the 1500 word level, plus the most frequent words of full English, plus VOASE if you need it. The grammar is defined (ill-defined) as simple short sentence structure. As I said, Simple English is easy to embrace as being Basic Plus whatever path the teacher/organization chooses to move towards fuller English. Hence my effort to define that Language as an aid to Basic learner to go towards fuller English. Many common words and VOASE words are going to be picked up naturally, so let the learner use them in their daily living or on the job. Just as verb usage of the Basic nouns gradually comes naturally. Never the less, the learning progression is Basic BASIC first.
        Global English is a version of Basic plus frequent words for 1000 words plus expanded grammar and a prounuciation system. The rules are more complex than Basic, 20 vs. 8; twelve affixes vs. 5. The need to learn a complex prounciation system is a burden before a learner can begin : this will be understandably prohibitive to many learners that Basic attempts to reach.
        Threshold English (1500) and Nuclear English are other variations of reduced English that take longer to learn, thus delaying and discouraging learners. As with all of these well intended languages, they may provide tips to teaching "next step" Basic. In fact, they may be thought of as ways to teach Simple English (Basic Plus). Because each is larger and more nearly like full English, they are more satisfying to acedemics and less suited as International Second Language for the masses.

        I find it intriguing that virtually all "improved" Basic are 1,500 words with more verbs. Yet to the student of Ogden, this is just an intermediate level of his path to full English which he says is achieved where he leads us -- at 2,000 words. The proponents of the various improved clones of Basic compare their more comprehensive wordlist with the basic BASIC 850 and not with Ogden’s "next steps" path to 2,000 words. Totally fraudulent comparisons ! ! ! Ogden's marvel is that he makes the learner totally sufficient in 850 words of learning time ; the learner is able to participate in English as he desires : international trade, foreign travel, entry into mainstream English speaking society, early immersion into practical progression towards full English, or whatever in the individual's goal(s). Being quicker to learn and to use, people are more likely to get started and complete learning an international language. The learner is able to either stop there and communicate in a Basic manner, or go further if they desire.
        See our work at: http://www.basic-english.org\Projects\452.html and the list of links list at the bottom.
        Longman's reduced vocabulary for educational use, is worthy, even though it is based on arch villain Michael West's General Service List, but at 2,075 root words and 48 affix (10 prefix and 38 suffix), it must be considered, and is advertised as, Intermediate English. It is not for learners, but Longman is for those who have learned Basic. The Longman books will be more comfortable to the learner who has completed Basic than will be full English books, dictionaries, etc. The concept of making the de facto world language accessible is so obvious that at some point it will take off. Your references suggests "The language spoken worldwide, by 88 percent of mankind". Fancy wording and salesmanship, rather than specific content, may be the trigger. My purpose in providing the Ogden website was to make his pioneering work available to current and future researchers. That is happening. Getting back to Globish -- it is just one more theft of Ogden's work. If it does become the name of THE international second language, then we will quietly wink as knowing who the real hero is.

        Though several books of Ogden are available in HTML format on the website, I would like to know whether you can very kindly provide them to me and other visitors as PDF files. It would be much more convenient to download and read.
        If you join the Institute you can take on this project for the benefit of other readers. The books are summaries, some more complete than others. They are continually be expanded on the website. A feature of PDF is that is firmly fixed, whereas HTML is self-formating and easy to grow. Our tentative schedule for PDF is 2007 in preparation for introducing as part of a book, but this project is more likely to be delayed rather than moved up, without additional volunteer support.
        You might try downloading the HTML files into our recommended Open Office suite (because of our spell checker) and "export" as PDF. This is quite easy, but we do not have the time to edit spacing, page breaks and when we do it, we will be introducing pictures and other features.
    A similar request gives humor.
    If you can send me this impossible to get material, it would be a great help
    I want to compare the Basic 850 word list with other lists of useful vocabularies. I am thinking about making a data base with the 850 Basic words and then making a data base of about 10 or 12 recommended lists. Then I could sort these lists and find out how many of the Basic words appear in the other lists. I imagine that there will be a high frequency of the basic words appearing in any modern list. If so, this would be a good argument for using Basic today. The writer teaches ESL to adults in California
    See our webpages: Frequent words and Spreadsheet . Only the A's, but sufficient to suggest there are no improvements over Basic without adding greatly to the learning effort. After all, standard English is the ultimate in being clear. Most improvements have significant shortcomings, whereas Ogden’s Basic has a proven track record. We offer some word processing aids. translation We all know that full English can be improved, but the goal of Basic is to be a QUICK to learn and complete subset of current, full English, that is perfectly proper, gets the learner immediately into the mainstream of life or business, and has no unlearning to move to the full.

    Also, where I might find a number of words to add the the Basic list?
    EVERYbody wants to ADD to the Basic lists. At that point it is no longer Basic and invalidates all works done in Basic and negates the international part of Basic wherein people have learned the language as specified by Ogden. As steps after Basic towards full English, there are suggestions that can be gathered from other authors. See outline under Intermediate and Beyond Basic sections. The Institute hopes to move the wordlist towards the 21st Century and has created a list of “International“ Internet and Computer words.
        Many find the VOA Special English useful. Even though of larger vocabulary than Basic (hense, longer to learn), it is not a full language, only a news subset. Yet, it is valuable because news of today is continually offered in voice. See VOA vs. BE
        The most practical approach to moving beyond, after Basic, might . . . See discussion above about Ogden's "next steps" and Simple English.