Does anyone use/know of Simplified Technical English?
Thread poster: Marina Morgan

Marina Morgan
Local time: 22:08
German to English
+ ...
Jun 27, 2010

Dear fellow Translators,
I would like to know if anyone knows/has had experience with Simplified Technical English. I believe it is a standard which provides guidelines and specifications for writers of technical texts in order to ensure consistency and clarity. It is used mainly in the aerospace industry but can be useful for other technical fields (the specifications can be purchased by anyone). I work from Italian/German into English (therefore, for an English-speaking target reader) and would appreciate a tool which would help simplify the process but have no idea whether these specifications are appropriate. Any advice would be really appreciated.
Many thanks in advance,
Marina Morgan
Adelaide, Australia


J Gallagher  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:38
English to Finnish
+ ...
Simplified/controlled English Jun 28, 2010


I saw a demo of MAXit software several years ago. The idea is that companies adopt either an existing set of controlled vocabulary and/or develop their own and the tool helps the content creators to stick with it. The use of such vocabulary then reduces ambiguity and supposedly makes our work easier.
There are probably several such tools out there, one of the more recent ones which could be used for this sort of thing would be SDL's AuthorAssistant client, which comes bundled with the latest version of FrameMaker, for example, and is also supported by Word, XMetaL and Arbortext Editor. This tool can also inform content creators about close matches in translation memory & guide them to write according to 100% matches.
However, to my understanding this thing has to start with the content creation, only then translators can benefit. In my experience, this sort of thing may be hard to lobby in major corporations, but presenting a good business case (speed, quality of content, less calls to contact centers, reduced translation costs (hey!) always helps.

- jg


Maria Karra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:38
Member (2000)
Greek to English
+ ...
Simplified Technical English Jun 28, 2010

Hi Marina,
You're right, ASD-STE100 is used mostly in the aerospace industry but it probably wouldn't hurt if the same rules were used in other sectors, because they do make the text easier to understand.
The ASD-STE100 specification includes some standard terms (less than 1000) and it has a set of rules that all aerospace documents must follow. You can order it here:
Its purpose is to ensure clarity and avoid ambiguity. If a word has several meanings, you can only use it in one way, with one meaning. You can say "the pressure has dropped" but not "the pressure has fallen" because "fallen" is used with a different meaning, i.e. to imply that an object has fallen due to gravity.

Some examples of rules are:
-Write only one instruction in each sentence
-Write short sentences (e.g. instructions should not exceed 20 words)
-A paragraph should not have more than 6 sentences
-Don't write more than 3 nouns in a row

You can find more rules here:
(starting on page 15).



Melina Ruiz Arias  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
STE: Basics and software. Jun 28, 2010

Hi Marina,

The STE is an amazing "language" with grammatical rules and a limited/controlled vocabulary of aproximately 900 words. Learning how to write/translate using STE takes a while, but it is all about practice. The STE at first is a little daunting, but with some training and common sense you get into a flow.

We use the word "start", but not "begin", "initiate", "commence", or "originate".
We use the term "fall" to refer to gravity and not to refer to decrease in quantity. Therefore we say "the pressure decreases" and not "the pressure falls"
Technical names must be used only as nouns or adjectives, not as verbs
Always insert articles before nouns
We do not use the -ing form of a verb and we do not use the past participle with a helping verb (i.e "is to be installed).
ONLY use words approved in the STE dictionary and those inlcuded as technical names and technical verbs
Keep to the approved meaning of a word in the STE Dictionary. DO NOT use the word with another meaning.
Use specific instructions and consistent spelling
DO NOT make noun clusters of more than three nouns
ONLY use the form of the verb as listed in the STE dictionary
Past participle ONLY as an adjective (either with a noun or after the verbs To be or To become).
Keep one topic per sentence
Use a tabular layout (vertical) for complex texts
Procedural sentences: 20 words maximum
Use colons and dashes to make tabular layouts
....and so many other rules !!!

All come under the specification called ATA iSpec 2200. Example, "You should test the wiring harness every 200 hours", in STE you write, "Make a test of the wiring harness each 200 hours". You can see from this example that "test" is NOT a verb, and STE does not use "every". The language is very French-like and required by Airbus, Boeing and others
HyperSTE is a good software for this. Go to

You won't likely find customers asking you, as a translator, to use STE. Simplified Technical English is mainly used by writers and editors. However, some companies use controlled language for their manuals and technical documentation, so offering STE in your translations is an excellent choice.

My suggestion: If you have the chance, register from some training first. Training may include material and license for the software. Regarding material, you need the STE dictionary. Last issue was released in April. It is updated once or twice a year and it is important to keep up to speed with the updates because a word that is approved today can be "unnaproved" next year. For example: In last revision, the word "overhaul" as a noun, was deleted for the approved words list as well as "waste" (both as an adj. and as a noun). The word "hamper" (verb) was added to the keywords list, as well as "harden" (vb), "harm" (vb), and so many others!

Remember this: it's all abour learning the rules and vocabulary and practising. A good software will help, but if you don't have a software it is all about having your dictionary handy and checking EVERY word and grammar rule you are using. It is amazing to see how many "everyday" words we cannot use here.

Good luck!


Marina Morgan
Local time: 22:08
German to English
+ ...
Simplified Technical English - thank you Jul 4, 2010

Many thanks to jg, Maria and Melina for your helpful input. Your information was quite detailed and will help me make an informed decision as to whether it can be useful to me or not. Thanks again and happy working.


Melina Ruiz Arias  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good luck! Jul 9, 2010

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