The idea of English as a lingua franca was anticipated in the early 1920s by Charles Kay Ogden, who conceived his Basic English as a form of controlled language that could be widely understood and used with proficiency by both native and non-native speakers. Basic English arguably represents a crucial moment in the development of the ideas of language simplicity and it remains a milestone which has influenced later controlled versions of English (e.g. Simplified Technical English, Special English, Simple English Wikipedia). In Ogden’s codification of simplified language (which was deeply influenced by his previous semiotic studies) a few simplification criteria can be distinguished: controlled vocabulary, lexical isomorphism, standardisation (intended as establishing a discrete number of shared rules for the use of language), morphosyntax as an outgrowth of lexicon, the superiority of analytic structures over synthetic structures, and universality of a shared language as a key factor in the resolution of human conflicts. Language simplicity is therefore essential for better communication and improved social interactions. This essay argues that Ogden’s idea of language simplicity is deeply rooted in the history of the English language and can be tracked back to the Reformation period, in which “plain speech” was seen as a source of truth and virtue as opposed to the ambiguity of a language rich in figures of speech and rhetorical artifice, and to the 17th century, in which we can distinguish a supposedly scientific approach in language simplification.

Ogden’s Basic English and its roots in the Early Modern English search for language simplicity / D. Russo, A. Andreani. - In: LINGUISTICA E FILOLOGIA. - ISSN 1594-6517. - 40:(2020), pp. 99-128. [10.6092/LeF_40_p99]

Ogden’s Basic English and its roots in the Early Modern English search for language simplicity

D. Russo;A. Andreani
2020

Abstract

The idea of English as a lingua franca was anticipated in the early 1920s by Charles Kay Ogden, who conceived his Basic English as a form of controlled language that could be widely understood and used with proficiency by both native and non-native speakers. Basic English arguably represents a crucial moment in the development of the ideas of language simplicity and it remains a milestone which has influenced later controlled versions of English (e.g. Simplified Technical English, Special English, Simple English Wikipedia). In Ogden’s codification of simplified language (which was deeply influenced by his previous semiotic studies) a few simplification criteria can be distinguished: controlled vocabulary, lexical isomorphism, standardisation (intended as establishing a discrete number of shared rules for the use of language), morphosyntax as an outgrowth of lexicon, the superiority of analytic structures over synthetic structures, and universality of a shared language as a key factor in the resolution of human conflicts. Language simplicity is therefore essential for better communication and improved social interactions. This essay argues that Ogden’s idea of language simplicity is deeply rooted in the history of the English language and can be tracked back to the Reformation period, in which “plain speech” was seen as a source of truth and virtue as opposed to the ambiguity of a language rich in figures of speech and rhetorical artifice, and to the 17th century, in which we can distinguish a supposedly scientific approach in language simplification.
Charles Kay Ogden; Basic English; language simplicity; early modern English
Settore L-LIN/12 - Lingua e Traduzione - Lingua Inglese
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/829975
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