At 2:08 am +0100 20/4/02, Tim May wrote:
>Nik Taylor writes:
> > Those are just some of the problems that make it impractical. :-)
> > There's also the fact that 800 words CANNOT be used to describe any
> > concept.
>Well, it's largely a matter of how you define "word" - you can use
>idiomatic phrases, but they'll need to be seperately learned, you
>can't derive the meaning solely from the constituents. This is what
>Basic English does, I believe - things like "make good" for succeed.
Or does it mean "repair" ?
That's one of the problems with idioms - they are (potentially) ambiguous
and, as you rightly say, have to be learnt as separate "words". IMO they
are a source of confusion and a real, separate word rather than a spurious
compound is preferable.
>In this sense, you can express everything with just 2 words - 1 and 0.
You can, but unless your brain is equipped with a processor dealing with a
billion 'words' or so a second, communication is going to be a long,
tedious and error-ridden process :)
>On the other hand, if you're not concerned with how long it takes to
>say something... the Longman Defining Vocabulary is only 2197 words
>and some affixes, and can be used to define any word in the Longman
>dictionary. In theory, you can replace any word with its definition
Yes, but to freeze the language at 2197 words might make the expression of
new concepts in the future very awkward - the set of words, it seems to me,
has to be open-ended.
>tool for dictionaries, not a theoretical exercise. I wonder what size
>the minimal set of concepts is? I'm not tempted to try to create it
Some have :)
Reginal Dutton thought it was 491 - that's the number of "root words" in
final version of Speedwords (1951).
More recently, Jeffrey Henning has experimented with the minimal set in a
project originally called 'minimalex' but later renamed 'Dublex'. There's
a link to it from his Langmaker web-site.