Ogden, C. K. (Charles Kay)

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Ogden, C. K. (Charles Kay)

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English semiotician and founder of Basic English, C. K. Ogden can most accurately be described as a polymath. As a Cambridge undergraduate he was drawn to the study of language, and his passion was to be multifaceted, all consuming and lifelong. In 1909 he helped establish the Heretics, a society dedicated to the open discussion of religious matters; in 1910 he began to write for The Cambridge Magazine. The journal won notoriety under Ogden's editorship during the First World War when it avoided the jingoism which consumed most other publications of the time. Also by 1910 Ogden had begun the linguistic research which was to result in his best-known book, The Meaning of Meaning (1923), co-authored with I. A. Richards.

Basic English, the supposed solution to the problem of international misunderstanding to which Ogden was to dedicate the rest of his life, was first revealed in the pages of Ogden's new journal, Psyche in 1929. The effort to win acceptance for Basic English led to the foundation of the Orthological Institute and, as Churchill saw its potential during the Second World War, the establishment of the Basic English Foundation and endless wranglings with bureaucrats. Ogden was also the editor of the prestigious Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method and maintained a voluminous correspondence with some of the most influential thinkers of his day. Additional biographical information is available in W. Terrence Gordon, *C. K. Ogden: A Biobibliographic Essay</I>, (Metuchen, New Jersey: 1990).


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A. Wilson

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