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Simplified English and Controlled languages

This subject is seldom approached, even amongst translators, and yet would deserve a little more popularity. Technical translations costs and delays can be markedly reduced using Simplified English. As much as possible, when compiling technical manuals, translations should be taken in consideration beforehand and that requires some knowlegde of Simplified English and controlled languages.

Simplified English

In English, as in most languages, there are many ways to express things. While this is one of the beauties of languages, it can make things a lot more complex at times.

In technical documents, however, simplicity is key. "Simple" means faster learning, better understanding, less accidents,... but also faster, cheaper translations conveying more closely the original meaning.

Simplified English is a form of writing restraining the use of certain grammatical forms. Documents in Simple English are easier to understand and the "how to do" part of the documents is clearly visible.

Here are some examples of Simplified English rules:

Sentences are short, and to the point. Items are listed on separate lines. Ie: "Cats, dogs, elephants, crocodiles,..." becomes:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Elephants
  • Crocodiles
  • ...

Clearer, isn't it? Sentences are written in the active form only. Terms used must be as simple as the subject allows. Terminology must be consistent, meaning the same terms are to be used to describe the same object throughout the document, as much as possible. Metaphors and similes are banned.

The whole point is to write a text as clear and straightforward as possible. Typically, documents in Simplified English are shorter and easier to understand.

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