Pending requests

Shawn Steele Shawn.Steele at
Wed Nov 25 21:11:31 CET 2015

"Basic English" isn't using the word "basic" as a general adjective to describe a variant of English.  "Basic English" is a proper noun for a language invented by Odgen, having mild support from Churchill, and then fizzling out because it wasn't practical.  (See  Arika Okrent touched on this briefly in her Unicode keynote.  The niche it was intended to support was fulfilled by simplified Englishes (note the non-capitalized adjective), such as that used by Voice of America.

So "Basic English" and "simple English" are indeed not the same thing, but it's totally unclear to me that "Basic English" is a variant of English instead of a language in its own right.  And the confusion between "Basic" and "simple" is why I'd propose a tag of -odgen or -odgen1933 instead of a word that could be confused with an adjective.

"Basic English" would make more sense to me if there was an example of an application needing to use it.  Presumably it might be of interest to librarians attempting to classify Odgen's works (and related works), and therefore library software, however for that use case Basic English seems more deserving of a three letter code.

Michael, did you have an example of the need for Basic English that I missed earlier?  (I confess to originally mixing up the "Basic English" and "simple English" in the original conversation.


-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Ewell [mailto:doug at] 
Sent: November 25, 2015 12:01 PM
To: ietf-languages <ietf-languages at>
Cc: Shawn Steele <Shawn.Steele at>; Mark Davis <mark at>
Subject: RE: Pending requests

Shawn Steele wrote:

> I'm confused how Odgen's Basic English is interesting to the web in general.

Don't forget that BCP 47 isn't just for the web. It's for any application that requires identifying languages and variants by short alphanumeric strings.

Shawn continued:

> I'm much happier with the idea of a tag for "simplified language" as a general tag to be arbitrarily added to any language (which is a completely different think than what's being requested here).

and Mark Davis wrote:

> ​I disagree with "basiceng". What people need is a variant to indicate a simplified version of a language. That is not satisfied by "Basic English", which nobody has a demonstrated need for.

"Basic Foo" and "Simple Foo" are not the same thing, and without being able to read his mind, I suspect one reason Michael proposed both might be to draw attention to that fact.

Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO 🇺🇸

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