necessary to list 880 vocables in place of the 850 essential items on the Basic English word-list.¹ The answer is that the figures are not comparable. Interglossa and Basic English start from different assumptions about how much work a single word can profitably do. If the end in view is to make things easy for the beginner we have to bear in mind two considerations:
(a) Suitable definition of familiar objects often calls for more effort than learning a new label;
(b) When no common thread of meaning connects one use with another, an additional label is not necessarily more difficult to learn than an additional use of the same vocable.
In its choice of abstract terms Basic English takes a highly indulgent attitude to what constitutes a common thread of meaning. When we apply one word sharp to a remark, to a tooth, and to a pain, the only thread of meaning common to all three situations is a vague value judgment; and if we let metaphor have full rein in this way it is easy to keep down the number of items on our word-list. Indeed, there is only one limit to the process of reduction. In the end we are left with two vocables, one for approval, the other for disapproval. Admittedly, we cannot set a limit to suggestive use of metaphor in daily life. Nor can we draw a clear-cut boundary between