Simplified English (was Concordance Tools, Simplified English, etc.)

Subject: Simplified English (was Concordance Tools, Simplified English, etc.)
From: Poppy Quintal <poppy_q -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 16:57:02 PDT

This is in response to Jill Clay's message of Thu, 22 Jul 1999 15:03:31


Re: AECMA SE you wrote:

...I evaluted the AECMA Simplfied English manual and dictionary,...

Jill, which version did you "evaluate"? Based on what you are saying here,
it sounds like you are not looking at a current document. You should be
looking at Rev. 1, Issue 1 (dated 15 Jan 98) or Issue 1 (dated 15 Sep 95).

I am surprised that no one mentioned its LACK of applicability to

The SE standard is constantly being reviewed and revised based on the needs
of the industry (aerospace). We are presently working on high tech.
terminology (including computer terminology). However, since this CL is
specifically for the aerospace industry, I do not think it will ever
completely satisfy strictly computer-oriented users.

The manual itself is horribly written, ...
We are open to constructive criticism. Can you give us some examples please?

... and some of its rules would force you to use passive voice or >become

This would happen only if the user did not understand and apply the writing
rules correctly. On the contrary, used correctly, SE makes the writer
eliminate the passive voice and write shorter, clearer sentences.

Also, it applies to *the aerospace industry*, which is VERY >different from
the software industry - especially in terms of "end >users" - we have
military-types versus the masses out there who use >any kind of software.

The AECMA SE standard was developed for use in the aerospace industry
(originally for mainframe manufacture only). It has been used by many other
industries as the "basis" for their own controlled English.

For example, SE has a real problem with the use of verbs. I say, if a
word like "Test" is at the beginning of a sentence, *it's probably a

Keep in mind that controlled English exists for two main reasons: the first
and foremost (at least as far as AECMA SE is concerned)is to facilitate
understanding (in English) by non-native English speakers! Thus, although it
may work for you to safely "assume" that a word like "Test" at the beginning
of a sentence is automatically a verb, this would not work for many people
whose mother tongue has syntax that is very different from English.
The second purpose of any controlled language is to facilitate translation.
One word = one meaning (one part of speech), etc.

SE forbids the use of Test as a verb.


Instead of "Test [the software]," it recommends "Perform a test on ..."
Again, I am very concerned about what source you are getting this
information from. I am certain it is not the AECMA SE Guide! The verb
"perform" is also not allowed in SE. Below is the actual entry for TEST (v)
from the current version of the SE Guide:

perform (v)
[lowercase indicates that it is NOT Allowed as a verb]

DO or other commanding verb construction
[the word in upper case is a suggested alternative]

[example of correct usage]

Perform leak test.
Perform measurement of voltage between pins A and B.
[examples of incorrect usage]

It drives me crazy and I cannot believe anyone out there is >recommending

Sorry to hear that. But don't let it get to you. It sounds like you have
received incorrect information (you are not looking at the actual AECMA
document or perhaps you were given one that is very old and outdated -- it's
been around since 1985!). If I were you, I'd do some more research before
giving up on AECMA SE. If you want more information please contact me off
list at
poppy -dot- quintal -at- notes -dot- canadair -dot- ca


Poppy Quintal
Technical Editor
(current National Coordinator (Canada)
to the AECMA SE Maintenance Group)

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