What Is Simplified Technical English?
ASD Simplified Technical English (formerly AECMA Simplified English) is a writing standard for aerospace maintenance documentation. The standard is defined in Specification ASD-STE100. This type of writing standard is also known as a controlled language because it restricts grammar, style and vocabulary to a subset of the English language. The main characteristics of the Simplified Technical English standard are
- Simplified grammar and style rules.
- A limited set of approved vocabulary with restricted meanings.
- A thesaurus of frequently used terms and suggested alternatives.
- Guidelines for adding new technical words to the approved vocabulary.
The objective of Simplified Technical English is clear, unambiguous writing. Developed primarily for non-native English speakers, it is also known to improve the readability of maintenance text for native speakers. ASD Simplified Technical English does not attempt to define English grammar or prescribe correct English. It does attempt to limit the range of English, and many of its rules are recommendations found in technical writing textbooks. For example, SE requires writers to
- Use the active voice.
- Use articles wherever possible.
- Use simple verb tenses.
- Use language consistently.
- Avoid lengthy compound words.
- Use relatively short sentences.
Other Controlled Languages
While ASD Simplified Technical English is designed for use in aerospace maintenance documentation, controlled languages can be created for other writing domains. Companies in several industries -- manufacturing, mining, oil exploration and software development, for example -- have modified ASD Simplified Technical English or produced their own controlled-language writing standards. The Boeing Simplified English Checker can be modified to support more general technical writing.