Here is my posting on Common English written in Common English!
In seeking a universal English, we can give the same sort of answer that Peregrinus gave when he sought the universal faith:
… we hold that English which has been spoken everywhere, always, by all.
So we want that form of the language that have been used the most widely for the longest time. We avoid language that has only been seen in one country, one region or one age.
All things being equal, older words are better than newer ones and widely used words are better than those used in just one region.
You would be surprised how far you can get with just this rule. But when you have to come down on one side or the other favour the written English current in London.
Why London? It follows from our rule: it has been the English that has been the most widely accepted through most of time. Even in America.
American English is an example of just the sort of English to avoid: one that belongs only to a certain time and place. It is now widely accepted, but that has only been true in the last 50 years.
Using American English might seem like a good idea now when American power is high, but it will seem quite different if, say, India is on top in the future.
Here is a quick way to get a good idea of what the base words of such an English would be: Make two lists. The first list will have the 5,000 most common words in American English. The second will have the same for Shakespeare. Words that are in both lists will be your base words. Just to be safe, add any words in Basic English that are also in Shakespeare.
The base words are the heart of your English. In your writing at least nine words in ten should be one of these.
This process will remove all the words that make Shakespeare seem so British and so Elizabethan. But for the very same reason, it will also remove all those words that make current American English seem so American and so 2006. You would be left with words that hold up well in any country and any age in the English-speaking world, at least for the years 1600 to 2400.
You will have got rid of the fashion, the words that come and go and make writing seem so dated, and get to the heart of English.
And because your base words are found in Shakespeare, they will be understood long after English is dead. Just as Homer’s words are still understood even though Homeric Greek has been dead for over two thousand years.
For questions of style and use of language, follow The Economist as a good example of current London English. They even have a style guide online.
– Abagond, 2006.
Update (2016): I wrote in Common English till September 26th 2006 and more or less since about June 2007. In between I wrote in Augustinian English.
- The Economist
- Common English words
- posts on Common English
- Brown Corpus
- The Abagond Principle
- Peregrinus: The Commonitorium