Re: Writing Simple English for International Audiences

Subject: Re: Writing Simple English for International Audiences
From: Chantel Brathwaite <cnbrath -at- cbel -dot- cit -dot- nih -dot- gov>
To: Sandra Rybarczyk <SRybarcz -at- stewart -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 10:29:53 -0400

Sandra's friend wants to know if there are "any published standards for writing
documentation using a minimal set of English words? My interest is simple
English, best suited for non-native English readers. I think such a standard
would be incredibly useful."

I'm not sure what the definative standard is concerning writing for non-native
English readers, but you might want to point her toward the second quarter 1999
issue of STCs Technical Communication magazine. (You can view it at If you register as a guest, you can view the
full text for articles that are over 1 year old.) The article "Improving
Translatability and Readability with Syntactic Cues" has a list of guidelines in
the first paragraph. Although the article argues against using simplified
English because it restricts the use of syntactic cues (words that help you
predict the part of speech of the next word -- for example "the" is usually
followed by a noun), there are many simplified English references in the
bibliography. If she's going to prepare graphics, William Horton's
"Illustrating Computer Documentation: the Art of Presenting Information
Graphically on Paper and Online" has some interesting information. Some of his
work is referenced in the "Helping Technical Communicators Help Translators"
article (same issue of the STCs Techical Communication magazine).


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