Names of Things and Qualities

In addition to changes in its form, which give us new words, there are two chief ways in which a word may be made to do overtime - by a stretch of the sense to something a little different, or by limiting the sense to some special sort of thing covered by the name.

The greatest number of expansions are formed by using the name of one thing for the name of another which seems in some way to be like it. Starting with that which is nearest to us - ourselves - we readily see parallels between the parts of the body and certain common things. For example, head is used for the round top of anything ; foot becomes the general name for a base; any branch or rod roughly in the position of an arm is said to be an arm, while the important use of the arm in the early days for fighting made it seem natural for instruments of war to be looked upon as longer and stronger arms; the connection between the leg of an animal and the leg of a seat or bed is even clearer, and the fact that the chest is the box where our breathing-apparatus is kept, gives us the more general use of chest for 'box' and 'chest of drawers.' Other important expansions in this field are mouth (an opening), heart (for the seat of the feelings), neck (the narrow part of a bottle, a violin, and so on), tooth (for anything pointed like a tooth), and face (the side which is in front, or before one's eyes).

Things may be like one another in a number of different ways. The simplest comparisons to make are those dependent on sense qualities -- size, form, sound, and so on. Great things are frequently said to be mountains, small things, babies; a number of persons become an army. Plates of steel and glass are so named because they are flat and smooth; thinner substances, such as paper, are leaves. A hollow is a basin, a long, thin bit of anything, a stick; we have cakes of soap, and even family trees. In much the same way the sound of guns comes to our ears like thunder, and some are more moved by the music of the river than by the music of the band.

The comparisons based on purpose or behavior are more complex, and these make up the widest group. The bodies in space which are named suns and moons, are in form and behavior very like our sun and moon. A breath of wind is quite like the breath we give out, and the carriage of a train is used for the same purpose (the transport of persons) as a carriage pulled by horses. But the chain of connection is longer between the bed of a river or a flower-bed and the bed in which we take our rest, between the crimes for which a man is sent to prison and the crimes of the government, or of society, between an automatic machine in the station and a man who is said to be a machine because he does the same sort of thing all the time, or between the kick of an animal and the kick of an engine.

Going a step farther, 'fictions' are formed by these 'as if' comparisons; that is to say, things which have no true existence are talked of as though they were like what we see round us. It would not be possible to take a walk in a field of interest, though there is something in common between the range of our thoughts and a limited space; strong though the attraction may be which cakes have for a small boy, he is not physically pulled to them as the needle is to the north; and the work of the church puts no weight on the money support it is given, though the roof of the church is certainly resting on its supports of wood or stone.

Certain names of qualities give us another group of 'expansions' which have an even more complex connection with the qualities whose names they take, the connection here being dependent on our reactions to the things of which they are used. What is there in common between a bitter taste and a bitter experience, stiff material and stiff behavior, a smooth floor and smooth words, a bright color and a bright face? Most of us have as little desire for a second bitter experience as we have to take a second bitter fruit ; a person who is stiff in behavior generally has the look of being made of stiff material ; smooth words are as kind to our feelings as a smooth floor is to our feet ; we are made as happy by a bright face as we are by a bright color. Only psychology is able to give a complete answer as to why these expansions come naturally in such a number of languages, but the comparisons may be of some help in pointing out the connections we have been talking about.

We now come to a group in which the connection is based on a tendency for things which have one quality to have a second. Cheap things are frequently in bad taste, so things which are in bad taste are said to be cheap, even though a high price may have been given for them. The less complex an act is the less hard it is to do, and so acts which give us little trouble are said to be simple.

Not all expansions of sense are based on the relation of like to like. For example, the name of a feeling or thing may be used for its cause, as with amusement, comfort, pleasure, surprise. Or the name of a thing may be used for the process by which it is produced, as in addition, advertisement, building, discovery. A third group of a like sort is made up by the expansion of the name of a thing to its use, such as brush, sail, whistle.

Sometimes a thing which is part of a greater thing gives its name to it. A number of letters when put down on paper, in the form of words and statements, make a letter which we send to someone ; those who come from towns like Tokyo or New York have as much right to say that Japan or the United States is the country of their birth as farmers living in the country of fields and woods ; and when a number of men get together to do something they become one body in the eyes of the law.

Then we have the use of the name of a substance for something which is commonly made of it, a glass for a drinking-vessel, an iron for a dress iron, a tin for a tin box or pot ; or the use of the name of a thing for the substance forming it, as horn for the material of horns, card for that of which cards are made.

Last of all, there are a number of expansions based on true connections, which do not, however, go into any group. Most of these are, happily, quite simple. Examples are gold and orange, which give their name to their color, relation for a person in a family relation, force for something which has force, library for the books which go in a library. Not quite so simple are Spring and Fall for the times of year before and after Summer, a note in musk for a sound in a scale, (the) rest for what is in addition. It takes a little more thought, or knowledge of the history of words, to see the connection between the point of a pin and the point of a story, between the plane which makes wood smooth and the plane of an airplane, between the frame of a picture and the frame of a structure, or between being certain (of something) and being of a certain (but unnamed) sort. If they have no parallel in his natural language, the learner will probably be wisest to get these last expansions by heart and keep his questions till a later stage.

A special sense is different from an expansion because it gives a word a narrower, not a wider, sense. Special uses are formed when a bit of a substance used for a purpose is covered by the name of the substance. In this way we get a chalk, a cloth, a paper. When a thing becomes important in our experience it is generally given a separate name from its group. We have, for example, shoes and boots, watches and clocks. But sometimes the special need is only responsible for the development of a special use. A ball, if no other details are given, is a ball for sport, a business man is one whose business is trade, a judge is a representative of the law, a stamp is a post office stamp, and the pictures are the motion-pictures. With some words, however, their special sense is not their most important one. The curtain in front of the stage in a theater is not as important as the curtains in our houses, though it is The Curtain ; and most of us have less to do with the gloves of the fighter than we have with the gloves which keep our hands warm.

So far, we have given attention only to the expansions and special senses of words in their root form. But the addition of the -er, -ing, and -ed endings frequently makes new expansions and special senses possible. A certain number of these give us words which are necessary in the Basic system. A list may be of use. First, among the expansions, we have clothing, crying, facing. gripping, moving, noted, painting, parting, playing, rubber, shocked, stretcher, training, united, working. Some of the most important special uses are : actor, duster, feeler, maker, producer, sailor, stopper, used.

Quite a number of words have no special sense and no expansion. Some have only a special sense or only an expansion ; and though no word may have more than one special sense, because if there were more we might get mixed between them, it may have any number of expansions. For example, starting with the idea of a law as a man-made rule, the word is then used for a general statement of fact, the system of laws in society, and the men responsible for putting these laws into effect. Again, a line, from being a long mark, comes to be used for the way between two points, for things placed in the form of a line (side by side like houses in a street and so on), for the rails of a train, and for a cord (for certain purposes). With a little experience, this sort of word will not give trouble ; the sense is made clear by what is being talked about.

Among the names of qualities some have a different sort of expansion in their use as names of things. The simplest example of this is the use of the name of a quality with the before it in the sense -- that which is . . . or -- those who (which) are . . . -- (for example, the beautiful, the old, the dead, the first, the last). But a number of these names of qualities are used as names of things with somewhat more special senses.

These are: acid, chemical, chief, cold, complex, cut, dark, elastic, equal, fat, female, fiat, future, good(s), hollow, living, male, material, opposite, parallel, past, present, public, quiet, right, safe, second, secret, solid, sweet, waiting, wet, wrong, young, and the color words.

Questions and Examples

What are the special senses of current, engine, rail, ring? (electric current, railway engine, engine rail, finger ring). You might make a list of any other Basic words which have a special sense in your experience. Give the sense of the expansions of the words in italics from their use in these examples:

The door has a new coat of paint. Fear of change was responsible for a government of reaction. Some men are not happy in the society of women. The girl puts polish on her nails. They have put a new wing onto the school-building.

Do you see how the words get a different sense? These ideas may be a help. A door is covered by paint as a man is by a coat ; a government of reaction is not unlike the small boy whose reaction to being put into deep water is to have a reaction against anything new ; society is made up of a number of persons together, so 'society' has a connection with the idea of being with others, or 'company' ; uncut finger-nails get long and pointed like the nails used by the joiner ; the side parts of a building sometimes give the idea of the outstretched wings of a bird. If you have got the different groups of expansions into your head, you will be able to say into which group these words go : invention, iron, stage, solid, deep, paper, net, star, bone. Where would you put humor and wash? In what branch of work is industry most valued? (Among those who make things. That is why we say Trade and Industry.) What is the connection between a serious person and a serious event?

Some Common Needs

a. Simple Acts

To be expert in Basic it is necessary to have a knowledge of the best ways of covering names of common acts and things which do not have a place among the 850. A number of ready-made answers to the questions with which the Basic writer is most frequently faced have been produced after long experience with the system, and much time will be wasted if you do not make use of them.

Naturally it is with words representative of acts that we have most trouble, because we have to get round the 'verb' form. Let us first take some of the simple physical acts and see what Basic is able to do with them. When you 'speak' to a person, you say something to him ; but if you are 'speaking' at a meeting, you give a talk, or you may make a statement on, for example, a political question. If you are able to 'speak' a language, it would be said in Basic that you have a knowledge of it. 'Telling' a story is giving it. In the same way, we may give an account, or the news. But to 'tell' a person how to do something is to give directions, and for 'as I was telling you' we say as I was saying. When the voice is used in 'singing,' we give a song. The music comes to the ears of those who 'hear' (are hearing) it, and if they are 'listening' they give it their attention. If, however, someone only 'heard' of it later, he would have news of it. The newspaper man who 'wrote' about it put his account into writing or down on paper, and those who 'read' of it, saw it in the paper, or were reading it, or possibly went through it with care, and they may send a letter to the paper, giving a different opinion.

The mouth has an even more important use than talking, and that is 'eating,' which is taking food, or having a meal. When we are given more to 'eat' than we have room for, we are unable to get through it. Sometimes (when the meat is old) you may have to 'bite' it very hard, or get your teeth into it much as the dog gets his teeth into your leg ; but generally it is enough to give it the necessary number of bites. When you 'bite' off a bit, you have a bite of it or at it. And if what you 'bite' has a bad taste you may quickly 'spit' it out, which is to say put it out of your mouth.

In most operations of the body it is necessary to 'touch' something. In Basic we put a hand, or finger, or some other part of the body on it, or give it a touch. When we 'touch' or 'bump into' things by chance we come up against them. When we 'touch' a thing very hard, as when we are angry, we 'hit' it or give it a blow. If we 'touch' new paint with something pointed, like our nails, we will 'scratch' it-that is to say, we will make a mark on it. When we are 'scratching' an insect bite, we give it a rub ; and when a cruel little boy 'scratches' his sister's arm till the blood comes, he gets his nails into it. If a sharp blade had been used in place of the nails, he would have 'cut' her or given her a cut, but if he had been cutting through something like thread or a cake, he would have got it cut. It is quite possible. to 'break' a number of things which we 'cut.' The thread would then be broken, or we would get it broken. If we 'broke' a plate it might equally well be smashed, but if it 'broke' itself it would probably come to bits. 'Cutting' and 'breaking' are two of the most important operations in connection with changes of form.

We now come to acts by which the places of things are changed. The quickest way to get a thing from one place to another is to 'throw' it. In Basic we send the ball to a baby, or over the wall, or across the river. A sudden noise may 'throw' or put us off our balance, and a blow, given hard enough, will send us violently against the table. Whoever 'catches' the ball gets it (in his hand), and if he is able to get a grip of it (as when he 'catches' someone's arm) he 'holds' it, that is to say he keeps it or has it in his hand. When we are simply given something to 'hold' we take it, and when we have 'hold' of it, we have a grip of it. Most of us are not very good at 'catching,' so it is wiser to 'bring,' get or take things to our friends and not to 'throw' them. In other words, it is safer to come with them.

Another group of 'verbs' is made up of those for the different positions of the body. A person or thing that is 'lying' on something may be said simply to be on it, or to be resting on it. When a person who is lying' down gets into an upright position, he 'stands' or gets up. But he is still 'standing' when he is on his feet. Things that 'stand' in a certain position are (placed) there. If you are tired of 'standing' or 'lying' you will probably 'sit,' that is, take a seat or be seated. If not, you will make a move in some direction. If time is short you will 'run' or go quickly ; if you are doing this to keep healthy, you will be taking a run, but if there is some danger which you are getting away from you will go (off) at a run. A little ice on the road would then make you 'slip' so that you had a slip or fall. It is not a long step from slipping in this sense to its use to give the idea of doing some simple act quickly and smoothly -- and generally quietly -- as in : slipping your arm out of your coat, or slipping the money into your pocket, or slipping out of the house.

b. Complex Acts

Turning now to acts which are more complex than those of which we have been talking in the simple, physical group, we come first to the processes of the mind. To 'think about' is to give thought to and simply to 'be thinking' is to be in thought. But to 'think' that a thing is so is to be of the opinion or take the view that ; and to 'know' that it is so is to be certain of it, or possibly only conscious of it. Other facts which we 'know,' we may have knowledge or experience of. If we are talking of 'knowing' a person we say we are a friend of that person or have come across him. This last is used, more widely, of books, pictures, and any other things which we have seen. To 'understand' what we 'know' we have to be clear about it or have a grip of it, though when we 'understand' horses, all we are saying is that we have a good knowledge of them. But we do not 'understand' a friend till we see his point of view, which is not unlike seeing the point of a person's statement, or, in other words, what he 'means.' This may be what he is talking of, but is sometimes only what he has in mind. When our words 'mean' something, they have the sense of it. Two words which clearly have a connection with 'knowing' are 'remember' and 'forget.' We only 'know' things so long as we have a memory of them or keep them in mind. When we 'forget' them, we put them out of our mind, or they go out of our mind, or we have no memory of them, and so they are no longer a part of our knowledge.

When we 'feel,' we have a feeling of pain or pleasure, or a feeling (in the sense of an idea) that a thing is so, or we may be feeling angry or be conscious of a touch. If we 'feel' the wall to see if it is dry, it is possible to say that we put our hand on it. We are pleased with things, or friends of persons when we like' them ; or we may get on well with them. Of good food and pictures we sometimes say we have a taste for them. More generally, anything which we 'like' has our approval, and we give our approval to it. It is natural for us to 'want' such things, and then we have a desire for them. If they are very necessary for our well-being, we will be in need of them. And when we 'want' things of which we have not got enough, we are in need of more.

One way in which we learn' things is to get facts into our heads. We get knowledge of them somehow (in the process of which we are learning), generally by being 'taught.' We will probably go to someone who is a teacher of the branch of knowledge in which we are interested, and he will give us training or teaching. If he is a teacher of history he will 'show' us the effect of the past on the present and so make it clear to us ; and he may 'show' us pictures by letting us see them -- or putting them on view -- and examples of old buildings by taking us round. We, on our side, will 'show' the interest we take by giving signs of it. If buildings have no attraction for us, we may even have to 'try,' or make an attempt, to give signs of an interest which is not there.

The organization of society is dependent on the two operations of 'buying' and 'selling.' When we 'buy' things we get them (in exchange for money or at a price) or we give money for them. If we have no money we may 'promise' to give it later by giving our word to do so. The person who 'sells' gets money for what he gives us. If he 'sells' things regularly he probably keeps them in his store, and if he 'sells' what he makes he puts it on the market. One way of getting things without payment is to 'find' them. We may come across money in the street, or see that free meals are being given to the poor, and if we make a discovery of some new land there will no doubt be money in it. Unhappily most of us lose' things more frequently than we 'find' them. We may only be unable to put our hands on a thing when it is needed, or have no idea where it is, but if it has been taken from us it will probably have gone forever. Certainly we will not see it again if it has been 'destroyed' because then it will have been burned or smashed or broken. When a number of things are 'destroyed' at the same time great destruction is done. We 'destroy' animals by putting an end to them. Some attempts at 'destroying' them do no more than 'hurt' them, giving them pain, and possibly wounds which may do serious damage to them.

A great part of existence is taken up with 'growing' and 'sleeping.' Boys and girls get taller, trees get higher, old men generally get fatter, while one's powers, up to a certain point, get greater. When things are increasing in these ways they are in the process of growth or development. We 'fall asleep' very simply by going to sleep, and then we are having a sleep. At the end of all we 'die.' We are said to go to our death, come to our end, or, as writers put it, take our last breath. In our experience everything which 'begins' will later 'finish.' We made a start with the physical acts, and you got started at the same point. We have now come to the end of the names of acts which may give you trouble, and though you have not quite got to the end of the Basic story, you will get it done in a very short time.

c. Other Suggestions

Our third and last group is made up of words of all sorts which may be a cause of trouble.

There are three words which are used in a special way with operation-words, 'can,' 'ought,' and 'shall.' What I 'can' do I am able to do or it is possible for me to do. Things I 'ought' to do, it is right (wise) for me to do or my business to do ; in the statement, "the train 'ought' to be here in half-an-hour," the sense is that it is probable from the facts that it will be so. 'Shall' is covered by will in statements which are not questions ; but "Shall I do it?" becomes "Am I going to do it or not?" or "Am I wise to do it?"

Here are some words of number and amount with which care is necessary. When 'each' person in a group gets something, the distribution is made to everyone (separately). If there were six of them 'altogether,' they would make six ; but if this number was 'altogether' wrong it would be quite or completely so. The 'whole' group is simply all the group, and the 'whole' story about them is the complete story. A 'few' men are very frequently two or three, but it is safer, if you are uncertain, to say that they are a small number -- the opposite of 'many,' which is a great number or quite a number. 'Too many' is more than enough, or over-much ; 'too' tired is over-tired, but a person who is 'too' tired to go is so tired that he is unable to go. If he is ill 'too,' he is ill in addition. Things which are done once are done one time only, but things which were true 'once' were true at one time or in the past.

Some suggestions in connection with time-words may make things go more smoothly. A long time 'ago' is a long time back, or in the old days, and an event which has taken place 'already' has taken place in the past or before. An account of such events is an account of what has taken place so far or up to now. A person who is 'already' there is there now ; but if he is not there 'yet,' he is still not there, or so far he has not come. "And 'yet,"' as a joining statement, has the sense of but even though this is so. Friends we have not seen 'since' last year we have not seen for a year. Events which have taken place 'since' then have taken place after then. But in the statement, "'Since' it is late let us go to bed," 'since' has the sense of because. What we will do 'next' is what we will do after this, but when we 'next' do it is when we do it again ; and the house 'next' to this is the house nearest to it. 'Always' is generally at all times, which used loosely may sometimes be frequently. When we have the future specially in view, as in "I will 'always' be your friend," for ever is a better way of putting it. Without change and without end are the right words in other connections.

'Unless' is a very common word which is quite simply got round with if and not. For example, "It will not be done 'unless' I do it" becomes "It will not be done if I do not do it."

Here are two examples of the sort of quality words, much used in everyday talk, which do not go in quite a straightforward way into Basic. A 'busy' person may simply be one with much business, but it is generally better to say he is working hard or has much to do. A 'deaf' person is one whose hearing is bad.

Last of all, if you are given the tricks with a representative selection of general names you may get the idea of how others are covered. The 'world' is the earth when we are talking of space, but when 'all the world' is shocked it is everyone. In again another sense, the 'world' may be things or conditions, as in "The 'world' is changing." That which has 'life,' has existence ; but 'life' when used for the things which have 'life' is living things, or all living things. Living by itself is sometimes used for 'life,' as in "Living is interesting." A 'hill' is a bit of land at a higher level than the country round. Our short ways of saying this are a slope, or small mountain (when the size makes this possible), or, of country which is full of 'hills,' highlands. Though everyone who has a 'home' has not necessarily a house, he has at least a place where he is living (though one night in a hotel does not make it a 'home'), and when he is happily at 'home' it may be because he is with his family. Where one is living will, in addition, be one's 'address' for private purposes, but the 'address' of one's business letter will be at one's place of business.

Words Formed by Endings

Most of the forms made by the addition of endings are needed only at the second level-that is to say, when we give as much attention to how things are said as to what is said ; but a certain number of them are necessary even in the early stages. From among the -er words a list may be made of names given to persons doing different things, all of which are important. Some of these are

actor, builder, carter, designer, driver, farmer, fisher ( man), gardener, jeweler, joiner, learner, miner, painter, potter, printer, producer, reader, ruler, sailor, teacher, trader, trainer, waiter, worker, writer.

From among the names of operations we get keeper and maker. Then there is a small group of things which have some special purpose : burner, cooker, duster, folder, hanger, pointer, roller, rubber, steamer, stopper, stretcher.

Some forms are needed as part of a special fixed use with the name of a direction. With up we have buttoning, dressing, locking, stopping, touching, and working. Firing, laughing, looking, and pointing go with at. Others are acting (on), dancing (to), talking (of), turning (over), and working (out or an). In all these the -ed form may equally well be used. In addition, there are pleased with and used to. To be used to anything is to have had experience of it, so that it is no longer new or strange.

Then there are some words to which the endings give an important new sense. A prisoner is a person kept in prison and so on, and a reader may be a school book for learning reading (as well as a person reading). Clothing 1 is a name for the covers we put on our bodies, to keep ourselves warm and so on. Crying is needed for the behavior of those who are unhappy. A marked man is one who is marked out for punishment or destruction, and a noted man is one who is in the public eye. Pained is troubled in mind or feeling. A painting is a picture done with paint. A parting is a line of division in the hair as well as a separating. Training is teaching or education.

The -ing and -ed forms of certain words, though not much changed in sense, are important because they are so common. These are :

base (basing, based), burn (burning, burned), cook (cooking, cooked), drop (dropping, dropped), heat (heating, heated), play (playing, played), rain (raining), shock (shocking, shocked), snow (snowing), trouble (troubling, troubled), waste (wasting, wasted).

The Most Necessary Fixed Word-Groups

Here is our list of 50 (of the 250) fixed word-groups which are hardest to do without:

at war (peace, work, play, rest) worked out
bad (good, quick, working) at go (be turned) over
at last (first) be able to
by himself put up with
for example angry (pleased) with
but for come to a stop
responsible for get (a book) out
in motion (flight) get out of doing
in use (operation) give up
out of the room go to sleep
control, grip of (guns) go off
full of (lights) go out
off his head have an effect on
go (keep) on (doing and so on) take up a story
put off (a meeting) put a stop to
as if give way to
one another in (out of) the way
there is at right angles
in addition to dependent on
in the belief (that) good morning (day, night)
in bits at present
in memory of tired of
take part in straight away
take place 10 years old
and so on as well (as)

1 Said with a long 'a' as in 'roll' and a 'th' as in 'though.' In 'breathing' (in which the 'ea' is sounded as in 'increase') and 'mouthing,' there is a like change in the sound of 'th' ; and in 'housing' the 's' is sounded as in 'was'.