The skills necessary for complete mastery are: (a) auditory recognition; (b) pronunciation and intonation; (c) self-expression in writing; (d) recognition of the written word. Whether one of them is more or less difficult to acquire than another depends partly on personal gifts, such as visual memory and mimetic aptitude. Opportunities for use by reading, by travel or by correspondence play a part, as also intrinsic characteristics of the language itself.
Languages which are relatively holophrastic, such as French, offer greater difficulties for auditory recognition than more staccato languages like German. The syntax of German makes reading difficult, and Hottentot clicks or Chinese tones are hard to mimic without special phonetic. training. With due allowance to these considerations, one thing stands out clear. On the whole, most people master reading knowledge with least difficulty, and acquire the trick of auditory recognition last of all. With constant use, the latter comes easily to anyone who has acquired the knack of self-expression in writing. So auditory recognition is of minor interest, if the end in view is to make things easy for the beginner.
What is more important is the difficulty of reading relative to the difficulty of self-expression. A difference between the skill required for reading knowledge and the skill required for self-expression is relevant to a criticism unjustly levelled against Basic English. All of us know the meaning of many native words which we never use in speech or writing, and the gap between the vocabulary of reading and that of self-expression is inevitably greater when our means of communication is a foreign language. To read a language we need to be able to recognize a relatively large number of words when memory (and ingenuity) is prompted by context. Self-expression involves very ready recollection of a relatively small number of words without extrinsic help. So part of the art of mastering a language is to get a thorough knowledge of a small battery of essential words for self-expression, and a nodding acquaintance with a much larger residual stock for reading.
Since it is much harder to remember words without help from the context than to remember them when the context prompts us, the desirability of designing a language with great potential word-economy is not incompatible with the stylistic advantage of having a copious vocabulary. Ogden has shown us that English has astonishing possibilities of word-economy, and we all know that it has a richer residual battery of synonyms than any other language. This is partly due to its hybrid structure, and Interglossa is also a hybrid. If we want to combine potential word-economy for ready self-