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Controlled Languages in Software User Documentation
Linköping University, Department of Computer and Information Science.
Linköping University, Department of Computer and Information Science.
2005 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (professional degree), 20 points / 30 hpStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In order to facilitate comprehensibility and translation, the language used in software user documentation must be standardized. If the terminology and language rules are standardized and consistent, the time and cost of translation will be reduced. For this reason, controlled languages have been developed. Controlled languages are subsets of other languages, purposely limited by restricting the terminology and grammar that is allowed.

The purpose and goal of this thesis is to investigate how using a controlled language can improve comprehensibility and translatability of software user documentation written in English. In order to reach our goal, we have performed a case study at IFS AB. We specify a number of research questions that help satisfy some of the goals of IFS and, when generalized, fulfill the goal of this thesis.

A major result of our case study is a list of sixteen controlled language rules. Some examples of these rules are control of the maximum allowed number of words in a sentence, and control of when the author is allowed to use past participles. We have based our controlled language rules on existing controlled languages, style guides, research reports, and the opinions of technical writers at IFS.

When we applied these rules to different user documentation texts at IFS, we managed to increase the readability score for each of the texts. Also, during an assessment test of readability and translatability, the rewritten versions were chosen in 85 % of the cases by experienced technical writers at IFS.

Another result of our case study is a prototype application that shows that it is possible to develop and use a software checker for helping the authors when writing documentation according to our suggested controlled language rules.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för datavetenskap , 2005. , 224 p.
Keyword [en]
Controlled Language, Readability, Translatability, Style Guides, IFS
National Category
Language Technology (Computational Linguistics)
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-4637ISRN: LITH-IDA-EX--05/070--SEOAI: diva2:20665
Available from: 2005-11-22 Created: 2005-11-22

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