Charles Kay Ogden (1839-1957)


  • Linguistics, philosophy

Notable Ideas

  • Basic English

Academic life

Charles Kay Ogden was a British writer and linguist who invented Basic English, a simplified system of the English language intended as a uniform, standardized means of international communication.

Although neither a trained philosopher nor an academic, Ogden had a material impact on British academic philosophy. He helped translate Wittgenstein's Tractatus. His most durable work is his monograph (with I. A. Richards) titled The Meaning of Meaning (1923), which went into many editions. This book, which straddled the boundaries among linguistics, literary analysis, and philosophy, drew attention to the significs of Victoria Lady Welby (whose disciple Ogden was) and the semiotics of Charles Peirce. A major step in the "linguistic turn" of 20th century British philosophy, The Meaning of Meaning set out principles for understanding the function of language and described the so-called semantic triangle. It included the inimitable phrase "The gostak distims the doshes."

Main Publications

  • Ogden, C. K., and Richards, I. A. (1949). The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism, 10th ed. With supplementary essays by Bronislaw Malinowski and F. G. Crookshank. Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1st ed., 1923.

Categories: People