RE: Writing Simple English for International Audiences

Subject: RE: Writing Simple English for International Audiences
To: 'Sandra Rybarczyk' <SRybarcz -at- stewart -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 10:12:35 -0700

There is much knowledge about writing to targeted audiences that our govt.,
particularly the military, has amassed. Many milspec materials are written
to a specified grade-level comprehension; thus, a working vocabulary of X
words is assumed as a baseline, and exceptional word lists, such as for
specific areas like machine tools or aircraft repair or whatever, are
appended to support these baseline assumptions. You can find much info on
this via the govt or military sites & publications. Curriculum & training
development experts abound.

There are tests designed to assess the comprehensibility of a docment; one
such is the Cloze test, which omits every 5th or nth word, to test how much
can be safely inferred from context. This is a reliable way to estimate
Here's a free program for creating Cloze tests:
from his description:
A cloze test involves taking a document (or a document sample) of about 250
words and deleting every fifth word (these seem to be the canonical
numbers), leaving a blank in its place. The reader is then asked to fill in
the missing words. In technical writing we use this as a test of
readability. The idea is that there should be sufficient (local) redundancy
in a document to allow a reader to score in the 50-60% range. Used in this
way it measures the writer not the reader.

May your ______ increase!


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Sandra Rybarczyk [SMTP:SRybarcz -at- stewart -dot- com]
> Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2000 10:54 AM
> Subject: Writing Simple English for International Audiences
> A friend who works for an international geophysical data processing
> company
> wants to know
> "Are there 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've searched the periodical area of the STC website for the terms
> international, minimal,simplified, global, native, and English with some
> success.
> Any other suggestions?

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