Wikipedia talk:Basic English alphabetical wordlist

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Spelling as in original version[change source]

I've read the discussion below and cannot really understand why American spellings are used. This is Wikipedia and sources should be taken seriously. In the original publication of this list British spelling is used, that's a simple fact. The spelling should be changed accordingly. The current list violates Wikipedia principles. 89.56.195.163 19:14, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

This page is not a historical document. It is the list of words preferred on this Wikipedia. It does make sense that a single spelling is preferreed here. As the US spellings are, in general, closer to the phonetic pronunciations of these words I believe it is appropriate to use those spellings and I speak as one born and brought in Ireland and living in the UK.193.82.249.131 11:03, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Anyway, the word travel should be there, no?


How to handle words on this list[change source]

I've starting adding articles based on this list (like size and position). I propose that we:

  1. Keep these articles at an extremely simple level, on the theory that anyone looking at these word articles would not know what the word means at all.
  2. Keep each article based on this list heavily linked, especially to other words on the list.
  3. Use pictures and diagrams as the primary method of describing the items.

-- Netoholic @ 21:12, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Spellings[change source]

Concerning the claim that Ogden's list uses U.S. spellings:
That's simply not correct. Ogden was a British linguist and he used (obviously) British English.
See [1]. He worked in CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND.
See also [2], for the original list from Ogden's book. 202.32.3.147 04:20, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC) Please note that the website http://ogden.basic-english.org/ is NOT affiliated with Ogden. It's a U.S. institution, which is probably why they dropped the U.K. spellings in the lists. Since Ogden's world list is a historical document, it should be quoted exactly "as is", according to Wikipedia guidelines. However, U.S. spellings are so common that is o.k. to include them.
But the approach to use U.S. ONLY cannot be justified.

Neither source you quote is authoritative, and their spellings are in the minority of Basic English usage today. Even if you produce a scanned page from an original Ogden book showing British spelling, it is irrelevant. Modern Basic English uses American spelling only. -- Netoholic @ 17:55, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Very funny. Even if I produce a scanned page... it's "irrelevant"? Let me summarize what you're saying here:
  • Ogden's original list doesn't use British spellings (claim from history page): Wrong.
  • You seem to be of the opinion that you can change spellings of historical documents. This clearly violates Wikipedia policy. How about converting Shakespeare texts to common U.S. usage, because it's more "common"?
  • Wikipedia accepts both U.S. and U.K. spellings. See: [3]
  • You call U.K. spellings a minority. Maybe they are, but it's a huge (!) minority: U.K., Australia, Ireland, India, South Africa, Canada (with some exceptions) and the rest of the Commonwealth, the European Union, the United Nations (U.K. official standard!), the WTO, ISO, NATO, IOC (Olympic Movement)...
  • You say my quotes are not "authoritative". But you are authoritative, I guess? You seem to be the King ruling these pages. "Modern Basic English uses American spelling only." Interesting. Who says that? Ogden, the inventor and only true authority regarding Basic English, whould probably find this statement quite outrageous.
That's your personal opinion! When I searched for "modern basic english", I didn't find a single page. I found that quite amusing. It's called "Ogden's Basic English". There is no classification, like "old" - "modern".

I never said that I wanted to get rid of U.S. spellings in the lists.
Even in American dictionaries, it's perfectly normal to give U.K. variants. That's all I'm asking for. Maybe you don't like "color/colour"? Maybe "color/colour" or "color (colour)" is better? Well, fine.
You might be wondering why I insist on alternative spellings? I think it is not acceptable that you take a British word list, published by a British linguist, Americanize it and proclaim: "This is the INTERNATIONAL standard." Because it simply isn't. 202.32.3.147 07:30, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The list was not made by me, though I did format it. It is taken from http://ogden.basic-english.org/ which seems to be very authoritative. I don't care about American/British spellings, only that the list reflect Basic English usage as documented by the most authoritative source. Your changes are not supported by documentation. Keep in mind that even though en:wikipedia accepts both spellings does not mean that this Wikipedia does. That policy is for us to decide. These word lists are not to be changed lightly in order to placate your spelling sensibilities. Find a source which supports the assertion that Basic English usage allows both usages, then come back. -- Netoholic @ 18:54, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

It's true, http://ogden.basic-english.org/ is the main site about Basic English on the net. However, if it was a British or Australian website, they would definitely use different spellings. On http://ogden.basic-english.org/intlworj.html, the following sentence makes it quite clear, that even this website (which you call authoritative), accepts spelling variants: "For ease of understanding in the digital age, I have allowed the spell checker to change spelling to "Microsoft American." There may be slight spelling and pronunciation differences around the world - the British may include some silent letters; the French may add accents, the Dutch will no doubt double some letters - but the words should be understandable." By the way, I doubt that Ogden would have liked his list to be changed to "Microsoft American". It don't care about Dutch/French variations, but since this is a Simple English wikipedia, and British English is a major international variety of English, BrE variants should be included. The "B" in BASIC stands for "British" by the way.
Besides, I noticed that "aluminum" is the only spelling in the "International Basic English Wordlist". However "aluminum" is only used in the U.S. and Canada. The official (IUPAC-favored) international spelling is "aluminium". How international is an "international wordlist" that only includes a regional spelling?
You asked for sources: Well, first of all Ogden himself. He's the inventor, the original source, actually, the only authority.
Here are some links with different spellings from various countries: [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]
Now, considering all these points, you should admit, that adding variants is fine. After all, it's only additional information for just a few words, less than 1%. The U.S. spellings are not changed. By the way, I'm a Germany university student. I learned British English at school and later American English. I like both. The reason why I'm arguing with you is that I'm a strong supporter of language neutrality. 202.32.3.147 07:39, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)
One more thing I noticed while reading the International word list. It uses "meter" and "liter". Now, you may not be used to the spellings "metre" and "litre", but consider the following:
The only English-speaking country not using the metric system in daily life and business is the U.S. And the U.S. is also the only country to spell "meter" and "liter". Now, do you really think it is justified to include only "meter" and "liter" in the list, when no English-speaking country using these units spells them this way? :-) 202.32.3.147 07:39, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Nevertheless it appears that Ogden supported American spelling for BASIC English (and in fact any spelling reform in principle). The following interesting footnote appears in BASIC English: International Second Language (http://ogden.basic-english.org/isl111.html#ednote) as footnote 10...

Although Ogden refused to associate Basic with any movement for spelling reform, he was, of course, prepared to accept whatever could be accomplished, and he recommended that "wherever possible without arousing prejudice, the changes already achieved in America should be extended to the rest of the English-speaking world." Accordingly, in The Basic Words as here printed in Section Two, the American spellings, behavior, color, harbor, humor, and plow will be found.

It was written by the editor for the 1968 edition and seems to pretty conclusively prove that we should be using American spelling if we are to follow Ogden's own intentions.

It's a footnote to the following paragraphs...

A chief obstacle to the spread of English has hitherto been its phonetic irregularity, the frequency with which the same symbols are used to represent different sounds, and the uncertainties of stress. There is the fact that the word fish, as Sir Richard Paget has noted, might appear as ghoti (gh as in enough, etc.); and if dealt with in the same way foolish might be spelled in 613,975 different ways.
To master such details in a vocabulary of 20,000 words, or even 2,000, necessitates an amount of drudgery which has given phoneticians and advocates of synthetic languages their opportunity. With the Basic vocabulary, however, such irregularities are reduced to a minimum in which, by treating each word as an individual, the learner can even profit by its peculiar appearance in written form as an aid to memory, and historical continuity can thus be preserved. The 850 sounds being fixed by the gramophone records, their written forms can be memorized as individual entities, with no special emphasis on any principle but that of stress.
Phonetic (spelling) reform can thus be left to pursue its separate path. It may find Basic a useful ally, and Basic may later profit by its progress. Hence the importance of Basic for educational work which cannot allow itself to be involved in controversies such as any violent departure from the habits of centuries must always engender.

...which again appear to support the case that Ogden liked the idea of spelling reform in principle, American or otherwise. -- Derek Ross 07:27, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps it would be better to move this to Wikipedia:Ogden's Basic Worldlist and keep it as the original list, and then have something editable at this page, where alternative spellings etc can be added? Angela 19:25, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC)

On another page, it says: "Foreigners found they could indeed learn it as quickly as advertised. They liked it (except for the spelling, which Ogden refused to agree to reform.)"
Derek, it makes sense to include US spelling, if it's true that Ogden really said that (the quote you presented). But it's probably a quote from later in his life. In the original publication, he didn't use US spelling.

In the US constitution, British spelling is used, by the way. You could say as well: "Today the founding fathers would use US spellings", so let's change the Constitution. But it wasn't changed, because it's an historical document. Just as Ogden's word list. Including both US and British spellings should really be no problem. And as outlined with "metre": it simple doesn't make sense to say that Basic English should only use "meter", when in every single English-speaking country where the metric system is actually used, it's spelled "metre". In fact, the international standard is "metre", see [9] 202.32.53.38 05:13, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Funnily enough, I don't have a strong axe to grind on this subject and don't really care which spelling is used. I just thought that it would be helpful to those who do care, if I had a look for some evidence on what Ogden really thought, since both sides seemed to be guessing about it. When we combine the note that I discovered ("wherever possible without arousing prejudice, the changes already achieved in America should be extended to the rest of the English-speaking world.") and the note that you discovered, ("They liked it (except for the spelling, which Ogden refused to agree to reform.)"), plus the fact that the original publication used unreformed spelling, it seems to reinforce the point that Ogden liked the idea of spelling reform in principle but was not prepared to use it in practice (over and above the limited reforms already accepted by the American public) for fear of jeopardising the progress of BASIC English. What a sensible fellow! Let us likewise not allow the issue of spelling to compromise the progress of this Wikipedia. -- Derek Ross 20:56, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Original Source[change source]

Apparently some users believe that Basic English is from the US and have thus created word lists using the American spellings. This is of course incorrect. A look at the original publications reveals of course, the British spelling is used. Why such a long discussion about this? It's simple: the original source is British and Wikipedia should provide information based on original sources and not on secondary sources. DenisL 18:35, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

The source is http://ogden.basic-english.org/basiceng.html. -- Netoholic @ 23:16, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Bot request[change source]

I'm on Wikipedia as SBHarris, and just discovered Simple English Wikipedia. Kick me if this has been suggested someplace else, but it occurs to me that what simple English Wikipedia needs, is a lot of robotic flagging of articles to see which of their component words are part of the Basic English 850, or 1500, or derivatives thereof(a much longer list). The output might give words in three different colors, for example.

It would be most useful if a user had some way of running the `bot repetitively on an article, while editing it. The best place for the bot to run in the background, would obviously be to have it run every time the user did a "show preview." Results would come up very much like the "linked" or "unlinked" colors now used for THOSE purposes.

Without a lot of experience, it's quite difficult for the average native English speaker to tell if words beyond a certain complexity are part of the BE 850 or 1500. However, with these things automatically flagged by bot, it IS easy even for inexperienced people to spot target words outside basic English, and then to make a decision if there is some shorter and more basic replacement that works as well, or if the word needs to stand "as is."

Won't one of your considerate 'bot makers consider working on this? It really would change everything here.

Sharris 21:24, 2 October 2006 (UTC) (SBHarris on Wikipedia).

(Agreed) I very much like the idea of showing words in an article in different colors depending on the type of the word. There is no way I am going to write a large article by looking in the basic word list for each word before I write it. That is too hard. But I like the idea of making English easier for everyone in the world by limiting the number of words. So I could write an article, then look at the colors of the words and only change the words that need to be changed. That amount of work is good. At least we need a separate tool that does that coloring! And the coloring should be good for those who are blind for colors. For example, using red and green is bad because they can look the same. David spector (talk) 21:39, 6 October 2019 (UTC)

Link to Wiktionary, not to Wikipedia[change source]

Many of these words have definitions in Simple English Wiktionary. The links need to be like this: decision or [[wikt:decision|decision]] not like this: decision or [[decision]]. See wikt:Basic English alphabetical wordlist. It links to Wiktionary definitions, not to Wikipedia definitions. Wikipedia is not a dictionary. --Coppertwig 19:39, 25 November 2006 (UTC)


Question[change source]

My I ask a question? Is it completely necessary to follow these words only? What if other words need to be used? For example, if I need to introduce new words, can I?

Prime Contributer

Me too, shouldn't the title be Simple English, not Basic English??

Not Prime Contrubuter


Don´t speak English? Don´t understand this? Use the Spanish translation of this message:

¿Puedo hacer una pregunta? ¿Realmente es necesario seguir al pie de la letra las palabras de esta lista? ¿Y que pasa si necesito otras palabras? Por ejemplo, si quiero introducir nuevas palabras ¿puedo?

Prime Contributer

This message was translated automatically from English to Spanish, don’t answer it.


Enormous fail[change source]

There´s one thing I don´t understand. In the list of words by the N, the word "none" in not listed! If that word is not listed is because it level is higher not? But in te X and in the Z appears "none" so if my level of english is basic I wont know what means none, so I´ll be confused. Imagine I see none in the X, but what is none? I don´t now because is not listed in the N. I´ll get crazy trying to guest it mean.

Conclusión, I think "none" shold be included in the N, this will solve the problem. --88.16.202.63 (talk) 14:21, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

= Maybe it's the problem with the concept of nothing. And the cypher zero (0) was not accepted in math until the iterative process of addition and multiplication were need to be express in writen terms. WFPMWFPM (talk) 18:38, 25 October 2008 (UTC)



= Agree. I think (none) should be replaced by (no Basic English word start with the letter x). While this is more verbose, all the words are in the list. --74.15.138.197 (talk) 10:07, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

What does the red mean?[change source]

Would someone who knows please add a note to the top of the page explaining why some words are in red. It's very annoying to see some words intentionally highlighted, with no explanation as to why. Thank you.

The red words mean that the word has been linked. There is not article created yet for that word. You can start one there! Very best! NonvocalScream (talk) 16:48, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Or that the non-noun redlinks haven't been linked to their wiktionary definitions. I'm fixing that. If this is incorrect, please revert. BusterD (talk) 03:53, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Rare, uncommon, unpopular[change source]

What's the equivelent to these? I'm having finding a suitable word. WP Randomno (talk) 23:44, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Not common? 205.209.80.204 (talk) 01:44, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Thing Explainer[change source]

should we use a more modern list of words? I suggest we use Randall Munroe's 'Thing Explainer' vocabulary, and maybe even his word checker. thoughts? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:603:4401:5a23:90fb:cd0:5e46:116c (talkcontribs) 03:22, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

This list must remain as it is, because it is based on a specific work. I'm not familiar with the one you mention: can you tell us more about it? By the way, please sign your posts by putting four tildes (~~~~) at the end. Thanks! --Auntof6 (talk) 03:33, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

Space Repetition Flashcards[change source]

I landed on this page when I was trying to form a vocabulary list to help ESL students. I figured that flashcards with these word list should be mastered at some point in their elementary courses. In addition, by the comments on this page, it sees that other ESL students have visited this page with the same purpose in mind. On this note, I imagine there is a possible connection with wikiversity and this page.

It would be a good idea to create a set of space repetition flashcards, for example anki cards, for this list and reference it here. I don't understand much about licensing, but I know anki is GPL. (1) does that mean it is compatible with wikimedia? (2) would it be allowed to upload a set of anki cards to wikiversity, for example? Regardless, a set of cards can always be uploaded to the anki project and remain in their repositories for a period of time. Cleverwater (talk) 18:30, 13 March 2016 (UTC)

Fix the wrong number "1500" for combined word list![change source]

It's causing unnecessary confusion (even disappointment! ;) ) when you click the "combined wordlist (1500 words)" link and that page says:

 "It actually contains well over 2,600 words"

and:

 "Total: 2626 words."

(I seem to have no edit permission, so I couldn't fix it myself.)

List is not alphabetized[change source]

The list is not alphabetized, some words are out of order. These are the changes to put the list in order:

  • after before agreement
  • doubt before down
  • mass before match
  • opinion before opposite
  • other after ornament
  • red after record
  • seem before send
  • south after soup
  • stamp after stage
  • stem after steel
  • sticky and stiff after stick
  • straight after story
  • such and sudden after substance
  • sun after summer
  • though before thought
  • tired after tin
  • trouble after trick
  • use after up
  • waiting before walk