I think that Simplified English does something that is logical with a complex language. It uses nouns as nouns and limits the meaning of a word so that the reader knows exactly what that word means all the time. A good word to describe what Simplified English does is Efficiency. An article in the Times in 1987 stated: With Simplified English we may at last be on the threshold of making English logical and tidy. Will Simplified English work within all areas of English usage? Think what would happen to politics if all politicians said what they meant without any ambiguity.
Most technical authors I know who use Simplified English say they find that it works when writing maintenance procedures but are not as complementary about it when they have to write descriptions or operations. Having to spend a lot of time looking up approved or unapproved words in the dictionary was their main objection. They also did not like having to translate, into Simplified English, existing and sometimes poorly written publications. A significant decrease in their productivity was noticed when they first started to use Simplified English.
Some technical authors felt it was “hard to learn a new trick” and the new concept should be introduced in phases. They obviously felt that it was going to take some time to get used to the “new system”. With Simplified English grammar skills need attention so that the technical author knows how to identify the nouns, verbs and function words. It might be easy knowing the word to use, but selecting a replacement for an unapproved word is the difficult part, even with extensive examples. It is not always possible to use the selected alternative, if there is one. In some instances, the dictionary will say that a word is unapproved, but the only alternative is to use a different construction.
My first attempts with Simplified English took a few rewrites until I had mastered it. I have found that once you have used Simplified English on a few occasions you get used to the limited vocabulary and tend to use the same words all the time. When I have used Simplified English I have looked more critically at the text written and this has forced me to be clear and precise. A good example of before and after Simplified English is:
Before: It is equally important that there should be no seasonal changes in the procedures, as, although aircraft fuel system icing due to water contamination is more often met with in winter, it can be equally dangerous during the summer months.
After: Use the same procedures all the time, because water in the fuel system can freeze during winter or summer.
As the aerospace industry uses a lot of maintenance procedures it was quite apparent that the Simplified English language was needed to overcome all the language problems. Therefore with this approved vocabulary and set of rules, technical authors writing in English, worldwide, will be able to write in the same, clear consistent style to present information that is easy to understand by the international aerospace industry.
Filed under: Simplified English
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!