Critics of Basic English make much of the fact that it is long-winded. The criticism has a measure of truth, but much less than appears from illustrations divorced from a real context. The fact is that any analytical language designed like Basic (or Interglossa) eliminates redundancies of language which do not show up in a dictionary definition. A dictionary definition of the verb swim in Basic or Interglossa has to specify the fact that the activity takes place in water. Since the Channel is a stretch of water, this part of the definition disappears when we translate the sentence: he swam the Channel yesterday. Consequently a dictionary gives a quite distorted idea of the space which a Basic or Interglossa translation takes up. By comparing the translations in Chapter XI with the originals, the reader can verify the claim that Interglossa is not more space-consuming than everyday English.
The inherent antinomy between word-economy in the interests of the beginner and space-economy in the interests of those who pay for the cost of printing prompts a suggestion that those who write Interglossa should freely use internationally current ideograms, such as £, $, + (plus), - (without), ♀ (female or Venus) for she, her, ♂ (male or Mars) for he, him, his, ☿ (hermaphrodite or Mercury) for one, one's, ☾ (moon), ? put at the beginning of a sentence or clause for the interrogative particle que, & (syn), etc. (see p. 123), as also all international abbreviations, e.g. g (gram), l (litre), m (metre), etc. We can also economize space by breaking away from the humanistic tradition which prescribes the formula one hundred and sixty-three thousand nine hundred and seventy-two for the compact ideogram 163972, and by using 0 and 1 respectively for the articles zero (no) and un (a, the).
One advantage of a language designed to achieve maximum word-economy in Ogden's sense recalls R. J. G. Dutton's Speedwords, an ingenious system of international shorthand which makes use of monosyllables in Roman script, thus cutting out the effort of learning a new and esoteric system of symbols. With 5 vowel and 20 consonant symbols we can build 100 open syllables like to or be, and 100 open monosyllables like at or up, making 205 pronounceable elements, if we add simple vowels to the list. Closed monosyllables like pot or top containing no consonant clusters add another 2,000 possibilities. Since Basic English gets along with a word-list of 850 essential items, it is clearly possible to design a language of which all the root words would be monosyllabic, like the root words of a Chinese language. A language so designed need not be compromised by a superfoetation of homophones, as in Chinese; but it could not be a language based exclusively on