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     > controlled language: rules for machine translation.


The author of this website has used a so-called controlled language in order to write this text in the German language. Afterwards, a machine translation system has translated the German text into the English language. Finally, a human translator has corrected the translation mistakes of the machine translation software. The correction process required considerably less time than a traditional human translation process.



A controlled language is an interesting solution for authors who write texts for translation.

A controlled language has stricter rules than the general language. Controlled languages enable authors to write texts that are easily comprehensible. It is an undeniable fact: Texts that are easily comprehensible are also easily translatable. All translation processes have much better results if authors write the source texts in a controlled language.


A controlled language with ten rules.

Grammar rules are different for each language. Therefore, the rules for controlled languages differ from language to language. In other words: There can be no rules that have optimal results for all languages. But the following rules will reduce ambiguities in most texts in many languages. Texts without ambiguities are ideal for machine translation.


These controlled language rules are examples of the rules in the |CLOUT™ rule set. |CLOUT is an acronym for |Controlled |Language |Optimized |for |Uniform |Translation. The |CLOUT™ rule set was developed by Uwe Muegge.


Controlled Language Rule 1:

Write sentences that are shorter than 25 words.


The author performs the following tasks:

  • Collect the necessary information.

  • Analyze and evaluate the information.

  • Write a structured draft.

Do not write:

Authors will approach any writing project by collecting the necessary information first, and after carefully analyzing and evaluating it, they will create a structured draft.


Controlled Language Rule 2:

Write sentences that express only one idea.


Authors who optimize their texts for easy comprehension facilitate the translation process. These texts enable machine translation systems to produce better translation results.

Do not write:

By optimizing their texts for easy comprehension, authors facilitate the translation process, and doing so enables machine translation systems to create better translation results.


Controlled Language Rule 3:

Write the same sentence if you want to express the same content.


Printer Installation.

1) Remove the printer from the carton.

2) Remove the plastic wrapping.


Scanner Installation.

1) Remove the scanner from the carton.

2) Remove the plastic wrapping.

Do not write:

Instructions for installing the printer.

After unpacking the printer from the shipping carton, take the printer out of the plastic bag.


How to install your scanner.

1) Lift the scanner from the shipping box.

2) Discard all packaging material.


Controlled language rule 4:

Write sentences that are grammatically complete.


Do you wish to continue the installation of the software?

Do not write:

Continue installing software?


Controlled language rule 5:

Write sentences that have a simple grammatical structure.


Show that you can organize your thoughts by using a simple sentence structure in your texts.

Do not write:

You, in your texts, to show that you can organize your thoughts, should use a simple sentence structure.


Controlled language rule 6:

Write sentences in the active form.


The program manager will send a summary of all questions to the responsible coworkers.

Do not write:

A summary of questions will be sent to the responsible individuals.


Controlled language rule 7:

Write sentences that repeat the noun instead of using a pronoun.


You must check the spelling of your text before you publish your text.

Do not write:

You must check the spelling of your text before publishing it.


Controlled language rule 8:

Write sentences that use articles to identify nouns.


Test the installation.

Do not write:

Test installation.


Controlled language rule 9:

Write sentences that use words from a general dictionary.


Avoid ambiguity.

Do not write:

Eschew obfuscation.


Controlled language rule 10:

Write sentences that use only words with correct spelling.


Texts that contain spelling errors complicate the translation process.

Do not write:

Texts that contein speling misstakes complicate the translation procces.


A controlled language is particularly useful for certain text types.

The following text types are particularly suitable for the use of a controlled language:

  • Software strings.

  • Help systems.

  • Technical specifications.

  • Technical reports.

  • Technical documentation.


A few examples of organizations that use a controlled language.

This list provides the name of a few organizations that use a controlled language. This list also provides the name of the controlled language that that organization uses.

  • Avaya: Avaya Controlled English (ACE)

  • Boeing: Simplified Technical English (STE), ASD-STE100.

  • Caterpillar: Caterpillar Technical English (CTE), Caterpillar Fundamental English (CFE).

  • Dassault Aerospace: Français Rationalisé.

  • European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS): Simplified Technical English (STE), ASD-STE100.

  • Ericsson: Ericsson English.

  • General Motors (GM): Controlled Automotive Service Language (CASL).

  • IBM: Easy English.

  • Kodak: International Service Language.

  • Nortel: Nortel Standard English (NSE).

  • Océ: Controlled English.

  • Rolls-Royce: Simplified Technical English (STE), ASD-STE100.

  • Saab Systems: Simplified Technical English (STE), ASD-STE100.

  • Scania: Scania Swedish.

  • Sun Microsystems: Sun Controlled English.

  • Xerox: Xerox Multilingual Customized English.












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