Project 452 . Simple English
Everybody wants to expand on Basic. We can support this only from the view of Basic being the foundation (primary school)
and the discussion of Simple English or Everyman's English as an attempt to determine
what path to follow next (intermediate school). Ogden provided a path to the 2,000 word level at which he considers entrance to Standard English has been achieved. For Institute purposes, we have an internal name, Basic 2 for Basic beyond the 850.
Our definitions: Basic is defined as The 850, International 50, Units 50, and affixes 6.
For Basic 2 (also called Basic 1500) we add the three General area words (now 4 with the few words of Social Science), plus the Subsequent 350 and the Next Step 150 words of common foods, plants and animals (when found or a guess is made.) and the six affixes plus a couple from Basic compounds: -able (-ible), -like, -ive (from have,
-ive, etc.), -th (for numbers).
We do not include the Special 50 word lists for which each learner is expected to learn
one (biology,geology,commerce, bible, etc.).
Simple English seems like a self-evident expression, but to have meaning must be made clear. Specially when computer defined. A definition used by for some company training and specification manual is defined as Basic plus the 1,000 most frequent words in English. The thought is that Basic
English is the foundation to assure that everything can be expressed, plus the 1,000 most frequent words are probably known (locally "international") from common usage.
The Institute may consider this as a step to integration with Full English. This adds about 320 root words to the Basic vocabulary.
Another definition is Basic English plus the 1500 words of VOASpecial English, this
adds 700 new words to Basic. VOASE1 is not a complete language, but one oriented to News. Basic and Special English have some of the same audience and VOASE is a valuable source of learning. It shares International Auxiliary Language characteristics and is a step towards learning full English by many round the earth.
An obvious third definition could be Basic plus Frequent plus Special English -- which adds another 20 to 120 words. The price of these additional words satisfies more interest groups.
Scope : Compare the alternatives to bring order to the idea of Simple English.
Work to Date :
Last year, we looked at the words in the top 1000 frequency and discovered why Basic is so clear -- 48 of the first 50 are in Basic.
We have the top fifty words from the British National Corpus. From this we know the top 50 frequent words are all in Basic. We have not found the top 1000 from that source.
We have the General Service List of 1,000 words that was provided by Ogden's nemesis, Michael West, but it is a bit dated. However, when we compare the first fifty of each list
the results are similar. Thus we can use the GSL frequency because we have it. If something better is found, the same methodology can be applied, but differences are
expected to be trivial.
This year we looked in greater detail.
1. We have looked at and made spell check word lists, many with affixes,
for the Basic plus VOASE and the Basic plus VOASE plus Frequent alternative. This turns out to be the more complex alternative and it will not be looked into any further.
2. We have now looked at the Basic plus Frequent and , just in case, the Basic plus Frequent plus VOASE alternatives. This more nearly follows the more common definitions of Simple English.
To add Frequent will add about 320 root words. Many are root forms of which Basic
included a specific noun form, often -ization, -ment, -y. This list, suffixes, and
compound words and download files will be created. Determination of the number of
root words will require more human discussion than we desire to spend -- the work is
done by comparing spreadsheet columns -- but would be something near 2000 words..
For consistency with analysis 1., we note that to add international news would require addition of 474 more words.
Something to be determined is the size of Simple English. Many persons consider Simple to have about 2,000 words by assuming this is half Basic and half Frequent. This
is a good starting point, but what about affixes? Each affix allowed will increase the spelling words by a thousand spelling and compounds words. Basic exceeds 5000 spelling words from a thousand Basic root words. What level of extensions are allowed? Are "effective" and "efficient" to be considered from one root word? Not to a learner.
Some cute statistics.
The articles, a, an, the comprises 9% of English word usage.
The ten top words comprise 27%.
25 words comprise 36%
42 words comprise 42%
50 words comprise 43%
75 words comprise 50%
100 words comprise 52%
1000 words comprise 75%
BASIC and most FREQuent 1000 share 680 words for 70% of English word usage.
Basic alone will exceed this number.
BASIC and VOASE share about 800 words
VOASE and most FREQuent 1K share 751 words for 69% of English usage.
The addition of each new word can escalate exponentially.
For example : the new word "class", from Social Science word list, joins with other basic words to form as many 27 complex words / spellings.
Spell Check Dictionary
Everyman's English . I.A. Richards' discussion of next steps to Basic, significant in
including the verb forms of Basic nouns, which Ogden suggests after the 350 subsequent words. We find this to be natural for the learner. Note that this is automatic for use
of electronic writing aids -- spell checkers see only a word and do not see a difference between things and acts. For this reason we sometimes refer to Media Basic.
Richards goes on to relaxation of all rules to derivative forms.
We find his examples include some where the spelling and pronunciation are too far from
Basic to be recognized. We favor only those that have a Basic origin, such as
-able (-ible), -like, in-, out-, self- ; others occasionally found in Basic writings, -est, -th ; and one from MySpell which should be of little trouble, -ve (-ive) from "have".
We do not recommend -less because it means "none, without" , not "reduced amount".
Standard English is whatever a general purpose dictionary says it is.
General Service List -- possibly developed by M.P.West to bring order to the
simplification of English. It seems to be the basis of the useful Longman Dictionary
and their textbook series using 2284 root words and a great many suffixes. The orientation is to eliminate complexity in English, rather
than the Basic English approach, which is to find the minimum number of words to be learned to most easily enter into English life, education, and commerce.
Corpus -- is a statistical account of word usage in major public sources.
The British National Corpus is well defined. The early attempt at an American National Corpus is dominated by "Slate" , an online zine -- which we question if is representative.
1 . We use "VOASE" to reduce the number of search engine hits for persons looking for "Vee Oh A".
2 . SE should not be used because it may mean : Simple English, Special English, Standard English, Specialized English, or others.
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.Last updated June 25, 2006 - expand on GSL