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 »  Articles Overview  »  Technology  »  CAT Tools  »  Producing a text in a Controlled Language For Scientific Publication

Producing a text in a Controlled Language For Scientific Publication

By Victor Lage de Araujo MD IFCAP MSc | Published  10/18/2020 | CAT Tools | Not yet recommended
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Victor Lage de Araujo MD IFCAP MSc
անգլերենից պորտուգալերեն translator
Անդամ է դարձել՝ Apr 11, 2018-ին։
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Producing a text in a Controlled Language For Scientific Publication

1. Introduction: CAT Tools. What is Machine Translation?

There are several Translation Machines (the so-called CAT tools, from Computer-Aided Translation) available. The concept may not be apparent to everyone who is not familiar with the idea of Machine Translation (MT). What we need to know to understand is that those tools can help in the translation and writing tasks. They can segment and reuse translation texts, standardize, and present the linguist with a pre-translation, which can be improved by a professional human translator.

2. What is a Controlled Language?

The concept of Controlled Language (CL) emerged in connection with MT. We know that MT still offers minimal results when it comes to literary texts, mostly poems and lyrics. Those texts make use of language that reaches a maximum subjectivity; and often use those words in an alternative, personal or symbolic meaning that the translator must be able to understand before translating. Local and subjective linguistic expressions are common, and grammar does not always respect the strict norms of the predominant language or dialect.

Let us contrast it with scientific texts: Those often use fixed formulas and homogeneous terms of expression; there is a need for greater clarity of presentation. Structural repetitions of standard expressions are universal. The grammatical and lexical structure they use imposes the use of less complex phrases for the production of each idea. To some extent, that is within the concept of "Controlled Language".
However, what would happen if – combining the advantages of machine translation – we could produce an even more controlled language? One that would aim to translate and internationalize a specific type of text, for preferential dissemination through a company or business group? At that moment, we came to a stricter concept of CL [1,2,3,4].

Initially, translators defined the concept of CL as having two essential characteristics [1,2,3,4]:

1.A restrictive grammar. And

2.Vocabulary limited to a fraction, within that which is characteristic of the general language in question.

3. Advantages of CL.

The use of CL results in less choice as to the number of forms of expression [1,2,3,4].

We understand that the concept can bring advantages when it comes to a text for translation – especially when a multilingual translation is necessary.
In that way, someone who intends to write a scientific text can benefit from a specific control over the language. (This is not about impoverishing the language, but about standardizing its use and expression to facilitate understanding). However, CL can explicitly serve other purposes.

Some positive results from the use of CL:[1,2,3,4]

1. Production and reading of a more straightforward and more objective text.
2. (Intra-textual and inter-textual) consistency of style and vocabulary.
3. Production of direct and accurate instruction manuals (of electronic devices, laboratory kits, complex procedures).
4. Higher accuracy of the text (especially when safety is desired, as in the description of materials, medicines and medical use kits).
5. Making some products easy to use and more attractive.
6. Natural human and machine translation.
7. More comfortable to locate errors in lengthy and complicated texts.
8. Facilitating automation in procedures, manuals and descriptions.
9. Simplifying of multilingual translation and text localization tasks.[4]

In this way, a controlled language for automation manuals will be more coherent regarding the use of mechanisms and processes. As for the customer, it will make it easy to use the product; when applied to medicines, laboratory kits and prescriptions, one will be able to decrease the likelihood of mistakes.

Nevertheless, we are also interested in a scientific publication. In that case, it will result in greater understanding on the part of readers; and, if controlled for translation, it will result in more natural and more effective translations.[1,2,3] It will even probably to facilitate the final publication, as reviewers will understand the contents more easily. That is the reason why we present this text.

The counterpart is that using this type of language implies a specific, particularistic usage (for example, for use in corporations); furthermore, the training (by writers and translators) is needful.[4] That can produce higher costs. Besides, it will also result in less freedom for authors. To some extent – in the case of scientific texts – this becomes an advantage. Nevertheless, something may deserve special attention. This lack can also result in a difficulty in paraphrasing and citing source texts to avoid incurring plagiarism, as the author may have less liberty to choose expressions.

We suggest those who intend to publish scientific material to spend some of their time will consider working on the language they intend to use. If one is going to write an essay, (Master's and Doctorate theses, and in particular international publications) – In English, Spanish or another language – writing well facilitates understanding. It gives prestige to the text and readers.

As we indicated, some reasons for the production of a text in a CL will also convert into improvement in scientific writing. For this reason, we present the translation from the Spanish text below.

It is not necessary to follow all the indications to the letter. However, the final text will undoubtedly benefit from greater scientific objectivity and clarity of reading. Besides, when translating the written text, its impact will be even higher.



1..Muegge, U. Controlled language: The next big thing in translation? Available at Accessed on 30/06/2020.
2..Muegge, U. A controlled language is an interesting solution for authors who write texts for translation. Available at Accessed on 30/06/2020.
3..Muegge, U. Controlled Language: Does my Company Need it? Available at Accessed on 30/06/2020.
4..Mitamura, T. Conference Paper · January 1999. Controlled Language for Multilingual Machine Translation. Available at Accessed on 30/06/2020.
5. Shift. Cómo escribir un buen texto para poder traducirlo automáticamente. Abirl 4, 2020. Available at Accessed on 30/06/2020.
6. STAR Servicios Linguistics. Translation Memory. Transit NXT – the translation Memory created by translations for translators. Available at At Accessed on 30/06/2020.


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