What is Simplified English?

Simplified English is a term used largely in connection with machine translation. More generally, it is also called Controlled Language, since the principles can be applied to any natural language.

Controlled language was first used in aerospace technical documentation, i.e. for the manuals of airplanes and other flying craft , which often comprise several thousand pages. In essence, a controlled language is a subset of terms taken from a natural language and stripped in their possible meanings to one single meaning. Throughout such documentations, therefore, a certain word always means the same thing.

With these limitations, machine translation works fairly well: In a limited context, such as a specific technical field with limited meanings of individual words. It is evident that in these cases very restrictive rules must be applied up front to the source text. These rules aim at reducing the ambiguity of terms to establish a clear-cut terminology. The result is the controlled language, which consists of a certain limited set of approved words, each with a single defined meaning.

Another reason why such controlled languages have been developed is to render texts easier to read for non-native speakers of the language (mostly English, hence the name). Of course, both the author of such texts and the reader/translator/machine must be familiar with the approved terms and their meanings. In both languages, when it comes to translation.

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One Response to “What is Simplified English?”

  1. Kirti Vashee Says:

    Actually, not quite true simplifying English and making it unambiguous and cultural context free as much as possible will facilitate any translation exercise and even possibly eliminate the need to translate it at ll in some cases.

    It does help MT but the value goes way beyond this specific purpose.

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