Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Have Eight Years to Practice Your Basic English!

From H. G. Wells's The Shape of Things to Come:

One of the unanticipated achievements of the twenty-first century was the rapid diffusion of Basic English as the lingua franca of the world and the even more rapid modification, expansion and spread of English in its wake....

This convenience spread like wildfire after the First Conference of Basra. It was made the official medium of communication throughout the world by the Air and Sea Control, and by 2020 there was hardly anyone in the world who could not talk and understand it....

This rearrangement of the association systems of the human brain which is now in progress brings with it — long before we begin to dream of eugenic developments — the prospect of at present inconceivable extensions of human mental capacity. It will involve taking hold of issues that are at present quite outside our grasp. There was a time when early man was no more capable of drawing a sketch or threading a needle than a cow; it was only as his thumb and fingers became opposable that the powers of craftsmanship and mechanism came within his grip. Similarly we may anticipate an enormous extension of research and a far deeper penetration into reality as language, our intellectual hand, is brought to a new level of efficiency.

Obviously, since the U.S. is currently in Iraq, the First Conference of Basra, which will make Basic English the world language, cannot be far away. And, no doubt, Otto Neurath's Isotype, which is based on Basic English (Neurath quotes, with modification, Wells's claim here), will spread, too.

This is the complete list of the 850 words of Basic English, although some add supplementary lists of widespread international words and specialized vocabularies. And here are the ten primary grammatical rules. Actually, there are some ways it could be improved. For instance, conjugations could always use auxiliary verbs: instead of conjugating to have as 'had, has/have, will have' one simply conjugates as 'did have, am/is/are having, will have'. That allows a massive simplification that nonetheless will usually sound fairly natural as English.

So get cracking!

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