Simplified English

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Userlab Inc.
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As usability professionals we know that making text understandable is very challenging, especially in an international environment. Simplified English can help. It was developed to facilitate the use of maintenance manuals by non-native speakers of English. Aerospace manufacturers are required to write aircraft maintenance documentation in Simplified English which:

How it works


Original paragraph
in Simplified English:
Place the water heater in a clean, dry location as near as practical to the area of greatest heated water demand. Long un insulated hot water lines can waste energy and water. Clearance for accessibility to permit inspection and servicing such as removing heating elements or checking controls must be provided. Put the water heater in a clean, dry location near the area where you use the most hot water. If the hot water lines are long and they do not have insulation, you will use too much energy and water. Make sure you have access to the heating elements and the controls for inspection and servicing.

(The above example is from "Learning to Use Simplified English: A Preliminary Study," by Margaret Thomas, Gloria Jaffe, J. Peter Kincaid, and Yvette Stees, Technical Communication, First Quarter 1992, pg 70)

Detailed rules

Simplified English rules can improve usability
This is a 34 page compilation of simplified English rules and approved word lists. It is out of date and should be seen as an example of concept.


Web sites

The European Association of Aerospace Industries AECMA
Click on "AECMA Publications"

Simplified English has been developed by the aerospace industry and its customers to help the preparation of maintenance manuals that are both clear and unambiguous for English speakers and non-native English speakers alike. The specification provides a set of writing rules and a dictionary of agreed words with their meanings.
Survey of the State of the Art in Human Language Technology —Section 7.6 (1996) Natural language permits an enormous amount of expressive variation. Writers, especially technical writers, tend to develop special vocabularies (jargons), styles, and grammatical constructions. Technical language becomes opaque not just to ordinary readers, but to experts as well. The problem becomes particularly acute when such text is translated into another language, since the translator may not even be an expert in the technical domain. Controlled Languages (CL) have been developed to counter the tendency of writers to use unusual or overly-specialized, inconsistent language.
Air Transport Association They sell a publications CD-ROM which includes the AECMA Simplified English Guide for the Preparation of Aircraft Maintenance Documentation
A compilation of related URLs Nancy Hoft Consulting offers training and consulting services that help your company accommodate linguistic and cultural differences in its products efficiently, effectively, and affordably.
European Commission Language Engineering Sector

SECC, a simplified English grammar and style checker/corrector.

Not sure of the status of this project (RB)

Global English

Valuable information and links on the use of English as a global language.

"... in software and related technological circles, this phrase signifies a kind of dialect of English that is presumed to be universally comprehensible. So, when Lotus advertises their SmartSuite 97 as one which "will be widely available in Global English from U.S. resellers," this means the product has been encoded in a language that all readers world-wide will find accessible. One consultant even suggests that the phrase is synonymous with "simplified or international English.""

HCIBIB Intercultural Issues This page contains links to information on intercultural issues in human-computer interaction, including but not limited to: internationalization/internationalization, globalization/globalization, localization/localization, language and translation, and standards.
Plain language action network Plain language can be understood by YOUR reader at first reading. It doesn't mean writing for a certain grade level--it means organizing and writing for your reader. Writing in plain language saves time and money for writers and readers.
Study from UNMl Study was conducted to examine whether using a monolingual simplified English dictionary as an accommodation on a reading test with limited English proficient (LEP) Hmong students improved test performance.
 Tedopres International A Boeing partner offers SE services.

Maintained periodically by Russ Brown of Userlab Inc.
March 7, 2005 9:03 PM