Wikipedia talk:How to write Simple English pages

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Dumb It Down?[change source]

At the risk of offending someone, isn't that what "Simple English" wikipedia is all about? I don't know. Maybe I can think of this as a first grade primer. While I can understand that ESL individuals would benefit from the re-writes, there is just something "wrong" with this.

Either that or I'm just a fuddy-duddy. Yeah. That's it. Ignore me. I just came to the self-realization that if I were trying to learn Japanese, I would benefit from a Simple Japanese Wikipedia, if there is one.

I'm wrong. I'm sorry. But I'll leave this up. Blondesareeasy (talk)

I would like to add the following to the section "Think about your readers":
Technical articles should not be "dumbed down". If the technical concepts are too complex for young readers then the article should be targeted at readers whose home language is not English. Such readers might readily understand equations such as E = mc2 or A = πr2 (which use an international notation) even if they have difficulty understanding the English language surrounding the equations.
Martinvl (talk) 19:45, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Random stuff on Basic English[change source]

Simple English might also use dot point to explain difficult words as soon as they occur.

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat".

    • Tears fall from our eyes when we are sad;
    • sweat is water which comes from our body when we are hot. 02:42, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"I also have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat". I know wingeing is probably a bad idea but "blood, toil, tears and sweat" is a terrible example. That is an idiom (that I remember as "blood, sweat and tears" but anyway...) which is good to use only if it is the subject i.e. it appears in Blood Sweat and Tears. If it must appear then explain its sense not its literal meaning: 'He said he gave "blood, toil, tears and sweat" (He worked very hard.)' (But better than that)

I would much prefer some guidance on how to simplify scientific or culture specific entries.

Also I question the idea that the simple encyclopedia would be primarily for non English speakers, don't they have there own language versions? If the simple version is to exist it should be for English speaking children or people with learning diabilities. </rant>

What if they don't have such articles in their language versions?Noelle1995 (talk) 18:11, 24 January 2008 (UTC)Noelle

Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but I always understood that quote to mean he was offering the British their own "blood, toil, tears and sweat", not (only) his; a warning of difficult times to come, and a call to face them squarely. 18:15, 10 July 2006 (UTC).

I agree, so an alternative phrase might be: "All I can promise you is hard work, sadness and pain" 09:26, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

I do not understand the example (and I have no problems understanding difficult English). Perhaps it only explains part of the sentence? 20:07, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

There is a simple typo under the header 'Method' sub point 6 -- "...and one Interwiki link (to s version of Wikipedia in another language)" -- the 's' is supposed to be an 'a'

Scothonix 01:24, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Milton Keynes[change source]

I'd welcome peer review of my first SE article at Milton Keynes. --Concrete Cowboy 16:16, 2 Jul 2005 (UTC)

I would suggest using natural language rather than Basic English and monitoring whether you are staying within your word limits with a tool like Vocabprofile: .

Extensive reading of graded readers with limited vocabulary is an effective method of language learning advocated by experts such as Richard Day at the University of Hawaii and Nation at Victoria University Wellington

Jon Fernquest

Web VP (Vocabulary Profiler) is a well done program to look for common words, but may I give an experience. I learned the most common Dutch words before going to Holland and was able to get the filler parts of every sentence, but not the meaning of any sentence because the useful words with substance were not there. Does WebVP have an option to use our vocabulary (Basic English) so that the non-Simple English words are highlighted ? Answer -- Yes !!!
Paul Nation, VUW, gives the program and wordlists as a Zip download . The documentation is complete -- 15 page in word.doc . The word lists are simple text files. Therefore, it seems able to add the Basic 850 words in the same format to basewrd1.txt and the Basic 1500 words and/or Special English 1500 to basewrd2.txt. The program will then give color coded results for pure Simple English in blue ; for advanced Simple English as green ; and for non-Simple words as red.
These non-Simple words can be looked up with the IDP Companion Translator from full English to Basic.

Manor 17:37, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Changes by Netoholic[change source]

I was not at all surprised when you (Netoholic) changed this page as soon as I mentioned it on Wikipedia talk:Simple English Wikipedia, but that does not mean I am against the two main changes you made. I like very much the fact that you chose relatively neutral terminology when you changed my edit, particularly in the second place, where it now says "link to a page which gives more detail on the word." I hope you don't mind if I add slightly to that, since it is rather vague where they link to. I'll say ", such as Wiktionary. That page mentions/links to both wiktionaries (my change, I'll admit), and therefore won't bother anyone, I hope.

The first place you made a change, however, I don't like so much, because it says "If no other word is good, add your word." I think this doesn't work, because even though it sounds like neutral terminology ("you can add it wherever you see fit"), the implicit assumption is that they will add it to Simple English Wikipedia, rather than Simple English Wiktionary. But I won't change it until we all make a collective decision on Wikipedia talk:Simple English Wikipedia, and even then only if that decision is in favor of my position. Edit wars and actions without consensus are counterproductive, which is why I haven't gone all over SEWikipedia, moving definitions to SEWikt and linking words where they appear to SEWikt. I am very ready and willing to do so, but I will not until there is consensus to do so. I suppose the main reason I think that linking to English Wiktionary doesn't make sense in any of the ideas I have regarding SEWikipedia is because in my ideas, the words would not have their own page here, and therefore it would be very clumsy to link to both whenever a word appeared. Since I feel that SEWiktionary is the preferable choice, that is what I would link to, with a link on the corresponding SEWiktionary page to English Wiktionary for those who want more. However, if at the end of everything consensus decides that we should keep short descriptions here, both wiktionaries should be then linked.

BTW, one of the things I like about disagreeing with you (yes, there are some, even though I don't like disagreeing!) is that even though we (or at least I) have gotten a little ruffled, we have succeeded in keeping personal attacks and heated words out of our conversations and discussions. Whether I agree with you or not, your words have been civil, and I thank you for that. --Cromwellt|talk 22:14, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Why did you revert my edit? And why did you revert it without explanation? And why did you revert it as a minor edit? I can understand doing so when it is vandalism or patent nonsense or something of the sort, but my edit was made in good faith and improves the page by specifying a possible location to link to, rather than leaving that up to the reader's imagination. Perhaps it would have been better for me to not mention that I changed the Wiktionary page to include both English Wiktionary and Simple English Wiktionary, so that you wouldn't know the difference and wouldn't object? I don't think so either. In fact, I specifically mentioned the fact that I changed the other page, because I knew it was something you might disagree with. But I expected you to talk about it, not to revert without comment. My mentioning the change I had made is in keeping with my policy of making sure that all my edits which someone might disagree with are not marked as minor, to give others a chance to disagree, etc. I am trying my best to be absolutely fair to all parties, to explain my edits, and not hide any of them, etc., even when to do so exposes them to possible reverts, etc. by people who disagree with me. Why don't you do the same? I think you called it a minor edit because it was not something large (I am again assuming good faith), but that makes it appear as if you are attempting to hide the edit from people who might disagree with you, like I might. I agree that marking small edits as minor and not clogging the Newest Changes page with tons of tiny changes is generally good policy, but to avoid appearing like you are pushing an agenda or hiding your edits that others might possibly disagree with, I recommend never marking those particular edits as minor, and always giving them explanations (not just a revert summary), especially if you could explain them on the talk page. Of course, you are free to do what you think is right, but these steps would help keep others (such as myself) from being tempted to feel that the edits/reverts are made in bad faith. Once again, I will not revert your revert, because edit wars are counterproductive and I want to reach a consensus on this, but that doesn't mean I agree with you on this point (although I don't know exactly what you think about it, due to your lack of explanation). As always, let me know what you think, and comments from others are certainly welcome, too. --Cromwellt|talk 23:38, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, I think the section you removed had some valuable extra information, but I'll let it go. However, the rest of my comments, including the value of telling them other places they can link to, such as Wiktionary, still stand. That one would especially apply when the article linked to is only a description/definition. --Cromwellt|talk 23:46, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Dictionary definitions[change source]

Per the discussion at Wikipedia:Simple talk#Project direction, in which it was agreed that we should link to the Simple English Wiktionary, I am going to add another point (2.5) to the method section, stating:

Not all words are encyclopedic. If you want to link to the dictionary definition of a word rather than an encyclopedic article, link to the Simple English Wiktionary using [[:wikt:this]] (put your word in place of "this") to link to this. For a more complex definition, you may also link to the English Wiktionary like this: [[:en:wikt:this]].

I am also adding the guideline template, but this should not be construed as an attempt to legitimize my edit. If it is a bad edit, talk to me about it here or on my talk page, and let's get it right. Thanks. --Cromwellt|talk 00:50, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Looking at it on the page, perhaps it would be better to leave out the markup for linking. They can look that up under the appropriate help article. What do you think? --Cromwellt|talk 01:02, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Is this really "simple english"?[change source]

I just looked at the page Brandenburg and to my ears it really sounds bad. The grammar sounds as if it was translated directly from german to english. I would like to change those pages but since I'm really new to "simple english" I could make a mistake by doing so. In fact I just followed the link to the "simple english" version from the german version of this article and then looked at some other pages and realized that there was something like "simple english" - I haven't heard of it before. (BTW: Do we have to use "simple english" on the discussion pages as well?) 06:39, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

  • I fixed it a little bit, mainly grammar. Don't know much about it, so I can't really help develop it. Torte 00:23, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Latin words[change source]

Often, for difficult words that are from Latin (like "perspiration") there will also be a native (Old English or Anglo-Saxon) word like "sweat" meaning the same thing, that is much more common and basic, but this is not always the case.

I disagree with the criteria behind this. It's not always better chosing that way. If the reader's native tongue is some of the many romance languages (the ones that came from vulgar Latin, like Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, etc.), it will always be easier to understand, for example, perspiration, than sweat. That will also occur if the reader's mother tongue happens to be any other language but he or she has knowledge of any romance tongue.

What if the user's native tongue is English? Simple should also serve younger students (grades K-9) who naturally believe "sweat" is a simpler word than "perspiration".-- What if the user's native tongue is chinese? Are we going to force them to learn polysyllabic romance words?-- "Sweat" is clearly a simpler word (one syllable), with a clear English lineage. Your appeal to Latin simply does not work. Lwyx (talk) 05:59, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
It does work for any speaker of a romance languague (and there are plenty of us!), like the OP said. "Perspiration" is way easier to understand to us than "sweat". Remember, shorter is not always the same as easier. (talk) 13:46, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely agree on the Romance language. Perhaps writing "perspiration (sweat)" or "sweat(perspiration)" would reach a wider audience, while teaching everyone a synonym. Certainly I find using more "formal" English with the longer Latin-origin words is much easier for my recent immigrant Italian friends to understand, than the colloquial/short word/baby talk mixtures many people try to use with non-English speakers. (talk) 09:24, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Does anyone else find the term 'body water' hilarious?[change source]

Full English "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat" in Basic English is "blood, hard work, drops from eyes, and body water".

What makes body water equate to sweat and not tears, urine or blood?

what has body water got to do with hard work? and wouldn't foreigners find it hard to understand, too???Noelle1995 (talk) 18:15, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

I think it sounds funny and it's confusing too. Ella Vader (talk) 21:16, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

It is not funny; just bad translation. The goal of translation is to relate the author's sense. In Simple English : Blood is blood or danger. Toil is work. Tears indicate trouble or pain. Sweat makes the point of very hard work, or in this case, more work. "Blood, work, pain and more, very hard, work." This might be made more poetic, but it is a direct translation. idk wat that means- pls help!

E Prime[change source]

I don't usually participate in the Simple English Wikipedia. I found this page and was surprised to see it suggesting learning to write in E Prime. E Prime is not simplified English -- it is English that was changed to express a philosophical point of view. "Is" is a simple word and is a good word to use in "simple English." 00:28, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

A Small Reformat of Simple English Wikipedia...[change source]

I think it would be a good idea to change the abbreviation for Simple English Wikipedia from "" to "". It's possible that there are people who speak other languages and would suggest the same idea.

  • If any French people share the same idea, another example would be Simple French (Français Simple). This would be called "".
  • All other languages could work the same way.

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat" does not at all mean, "All I can give is my body, my work, my love, and my life.". It means "If you follow me, what reward will you receive? You will receive nothing but the opportunity to toil, to spill your blood, to sweat and to weep" I am not proposing this as a simple English alternative. I'm just pointing out that the version offered on the page totally changes the meaning of the original.

Instead of "," I think it would be better organized if we could put the language abbreviation first: "" This would also better follow Wikipedia's current organizational style. — This unsigned comment was added by (talk • changes) on 01:11, 18 February 2008.
Or just have a one- or two-character abbreviation for simple (I'm not sure when languages have a 3-letter ISO abbrev, though) -- e.g. ens, frs, des, ess. However, this has been out there for 2 years without much feedback so I'm not sure the problem is pressing. - Regards, PhilipR (talk) 02:18, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Second person[change source]

I think the guideline about writing in the second person should be removed. Writing in the second person is often more engaging and readable than writing that consciously avoids it. There are numerous encyclopedias for young people that are written in the second person. Also, many dictionaries for learners of English (yes, I know they're not encyclopedias) also employ the second person. Apart from some notion of gravitas, what is the advantage of avoiding second person. What for example is better about "We say X" as compared to "you can say X"?--Brett 12:58, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

I think we should avoid using the second person in any form of English: written (simple or otherwise) as well as spoken.

Many of the people reading the articles obviously do not speak English as a first language. From my background in Romance languages, it would simply confuse the readers and encourage poor grammar use. In French, they commonly use "on" as an equivalent of "one" or "we" to describe something. For example: "on devrait manger des légumes" means "one (we) should eat his or her vegetables." Likewise, in Spanish, one would use "uno" or "nosotros" ("one" and "we," respectively) to express the same thing. In Spanish, it would not be acceptible to use "tu" ("you") because doing so would make the sentence more like a command than a suggestion. "Tu" also implies that the sentence is directed at one specific person, instead of a general group of people. (talk) 20:56, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

I briefly tried to edit out the 2nd person at Cat, then realized it's all through the article and probably fruitless to bother making piecemeal changes. Perhaps we should keep an informal list of articles written in 2nd person so we can change them or not as we reach consensus. In any case, I'm grateful for non-native speakers' opinions since they are the audience. - PhilipR (talk) 06:45, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
No, non-native speakers are not the audience, they are one of three rather different audiences. The others are children, and any whose reading ability is limited (for whatever reason). The relevance to 'Cat' is obvious: It is a typical page which will be read by children. Guidelines are guidelines, not mandatory rules. This can be illustrated by the page itself which breaks several guidelines quite sensibly (John Smith didn't), and contains some errors (uses 'requires' where 'needs' is meant).
Expanding contractions can be tricky: the expansion of the informal 'can't' is not 'can not' (which is emphatic) but 'cannot'.
I am rather with the first contributor. I suspect that we have swallowed an outdated and rather pompous model of an encyclopedia, where we should have rethought the concept in modern terms. In a competitive world, we should write in a clear and interesting manner, whilst still keeping within what can be justified by reliable sources.
The guidelines put too much emphasis on altering words, and too little on recasting sentences to make ideas clear. Both versions of the 'Sun & Earth' passage shocked me. Anyone who thinks refactoring complex science requires no knowledge of science has a lot to learn about both science and language. And surely we're not suggesting contributors alter actual quotations? (Winston speech). No, no, that just can't be true, I must read it again... Macdonald-ross (talk) 15:59, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

The Longman Defining Vocabulary[change source]

I think some people will find it difficult to use just the BE 1500. The Longman Defining Vocabulary has a defining vocabulary of 2000 words, which is used to explain all the terms in their dictionary. Could we add this list in as a sort of "upper level" for Simple English Wikipedia? 06:02, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Do we need a license to use it? Where do I find it? Lwyx (talk) 06:02, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I find it easier to use the General Service List of Words of the English Language, used by Longman's Simplified English Series. If someone wants to join a group defining a spellchecker based on the GSL, please contact me. Lwyx (talk) 02:57, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Broken link[change source]

The link to under "Other Websites" at the end of the page ("WriteIdea: writers' tool for writing simple text. Both java and web-based versions.") seems to be broken... Maybe it should be removed. (talk) 21:39, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Typo[change source]

There is a simple typo under the header 'Example'. The first sentence includes "... insist in using ...". This should be "... insist on using ...". --Cicero (talk) 15:49, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

 Done - Huji reply 15:52, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Avoid Pronouns[change source]

English is my second language and I have also taken lessons in other languages. In my experience, one of the things which make reading difficult to understand is the use of too many pronouns in a text. Using proper nouns repeatedly may seem dumb, but it really helps people with little English understand articles. Maybe "avoid pronouns" should be added as one of the guidelines of "how to write in simple english". SurferRosa 22:17, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Sentences[change source]

An article can be written with simple words, but still be hard to understand. This can be because one sentence is used to join many ideas. It can also be because many words are used to make beautiful one idea. An article can be written with just one idea. An article can be written with no words used to make an idea beautiful. If this is done than what is written will be easier to understand. A guide on writing in Simple English, should show that Simple English is not just to use simple words, but also to use a simple sentence structure.KTo288 (talk) 13:44, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

Phrasal verbs[change source]

After years studying English I feel that the hardest single issue to grasp is phrasal verbs. It's exactly the same difficulty like understand idioms and slangs and almost impossible to decode without a dictionary. I think it would be a good guideline to replace phrasal verbs ever when possible (e.g. "imagine" instead of "figure out"). Sincerely, (talk) 23:44, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree: sometimes I mess them up :o) A thesaurus for OpenOffice should do that job for you. However, the thesaurus posted at tries too hard to narrow all expressions to the Basic 850 wordlist. That tool needs some work. Lwyx (talk) 06:06, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. I have worked in the ESL industry for over a decade and feel that phrasal verbs should also be avoided. Most phrasal verbs are in fact idioms and thus are not mutually intelligible even among native speakers. (talk) 01:47, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Spellcheckers[change source]

I'm testing a couple of spellchecker installers for Mozilla (Firefox, Thunderbird, Seamonkey) and OpenOffice (3.x). Would that help new users? I don't know if I should add the Capital wordlist of proper names as suggested at the bottom of the Basic English download page, to help students to spell English names correctly, or if the Simple 4750 wordlist is enough. I also don't know if the hyphenation utility for OpenOffice is useful for ESL/K-9 students. I plan to upload them some time soon, so comments are welcome. Lwyx (talk) 21:46, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

I think spellcheckers are useful and I have one with Firefox. I think any or all wordlists that are likely to be used by editors (and readers) should be included so that editors focus on substantially incorrectly spelled words only. People who do not have English as their first language will have difficulty with grammar and Homophones - a spelling checker can't usually help with this but certainly it is a good tool to remove some errors. See for example this new entry by somebody who I believe does not have English as their first language - note my attempts to write a similar article in another language would not be as good and I would appreciate a spelling checker too! --Matilda (talk) 00:15, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I may have lead you into a mistake: I am compiling installers for Simple English spellcheckers for Mozilla and OOo projects, and I am testing the spellchecker with 4750 words that comes in the WIKI.dic file. For me this tool is useful to keep me from using difficult words. However, I want to know if you and other users believe that adding the few thousand common names (people, places, etc.) from the file will make writing easier for other Simple English users, especially young and ESL students. Thanks for your reply, Lwyx (talk) 05:11, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I read the article you mention and the user may need the spellchecker with the names: this indeed may help advanced speakers to ease their level, and improve the skills of lesser advanced students. I think I will add the list of names, and perhaps common words to explain grammar (they are marked as mistakes with my current spellchecker). Lwyx (talk) 05:46, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
By the way, the point on grammar is more difficult: web browsers do not have the ability to check grammar, but the lingucomponent tool for OOo may be helpful. Lwyx (talk) 05:46, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Bug found and fixed in en_BE.aff, etc.[change source]

I just found that the file en_BE.aff (and those based on it) has a bug keeping it from spellchecking well. I also have finished the installers for Mozilla and OpenOffice. I'll post them sometime in the next two days, and I'll post the links in the main page. Meanwhile, comments are welcome. Lwyx (talk) 16:46, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Request check of Responsible government[change source]

I wrote an article about Responsible government, but I'm not sure whether it's simple enough language. Can a regular here check it for me please? --Arctic.gnome (talk) 04:16, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Broken link to "International Aerospace Maintenance Language"[change source]

Hi. The link to International Aerospace Maintenance Language points to but that's now just a notice to go to where it is now called "ASD Simplified Technical English". Hope this helps. Best wishes DisillusionedBitterAndKnackered (talk) 17:51, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Done. I seemed not to able to edit the page before, and now I can. Jolly good. :) DisillusionedBitterAndKnackered (talk) 22:00, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

This article can be more useful[change source]

This article is hard to read. It has many ideas. It should not list many other ideas like VOA and Basic English. These ideas can be hard to understand. This article is better in the full Wikipedia. It is not good for the SE Wikipedia.

Can this article be changed to make it very easy to understand? Can it be written more simply? Can it have a list of the 1000 most common English words? Can it have a simpler and more complete list of grammar items? Can the grammar be talked about using more words to make it easier to understand? (David Spector from full Wikipedia, Feb. 7, 2009)

I think the links you are looking for are at Basic English. I have replied to your lists of most common words in English on Simple Talk. --Eptalon (talk) 16:00, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Sentence length and structure[change source]

One thing I see practiced but not explicitly mentioned here: simplifying sentences. If you're aiming for readability, you'd rather add extra sentences than clauses most of the time, and avoid parenthetical clauses. You also want to make all pronoun references clear, which means just replacing pronouns with antecedents sometimes. In-line definitions are also cool.

Google's Language APIs look interesting for making this easier to use for non-English speakers.

I have added the entire section on Simple Sentence Structure to the project page. I think it needs more refactoring rules than the six I provided so far.
If anyone thinks that this section deserves some review, you can insert a {{underconstruction}} warning at its beginning. Please don't revert or undo the whole section without first explaining your reasons here on the talk page. --RoyGoldsmith (talk) 02:42, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

comman words[change source]

while writing you should use comman words like - In this sentence I used words instead of vocabulary.

Comman [sic] suggestions[change source]

From good wikt:Articles in Mathematics one can learn. They start simple. Afterwards, depth is reached, definitely. For the time being, I try to get around with Simple, more or less, "manually" (not always does an editor read what he links to).
Where is the corresponding grammar defined?
Regarding sciences, there is a "well-known" quote of Einstein, roughly cited, "You must say everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.".Efidetum (talk) 01:44, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

In the What Not Section...[change source]

...add "don't copy articles directly from other Wikipedias? Purplebackpack89 (talk) 01:53, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Is copying an article directly from en: preferable to leaving a notable topic without an article? If policy hasn't changed, I believe en: allows short-term pasting of other language articles until they can be translated. - Regards, PhilipR (talk) 07:03, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Idioms versus vocabulary control[change source]

It seems to me that one problem in trying to write articles from a vocabulary-controlled word list is the temptation to use simple-sounding, but actually difficult-to-understand, idiomatic phrases (for example, "Keep your eyes out on the front page of the Simple News). In fact, even though I'm a novice SE editor myself, it seems like this is a sufficiently systematic problem that it probably bears some mention in here. Essentially it's a trade-off: In an idiom, the words themselves are often easier to understand, but their combination makes less sense to a limited-English reader. Thoughts? - PhilipR (talk) 07:15, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree. And IMNSHO native speakers are often the worst judges as for what counts as "simple". Simple speakers (children or foreigners) may understand a few basic literal meanings, but complex constructions (phrasal verbs, idioms) take a long time to master. Teens may believe they use a "simple" language using idioms and stuff, but they are actually sometimes very hard to understand (even for native speakers :-). That's why Special English or Specialized English offer a better approach for this project. Takes a lot of discipline, but it actually pays off, at least with my ESL students.--- Happy New Year, Lwyx (talk) 19:53, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Might this be a training issue that SEWP could address to help well-meaning native speakers write better articles? I think in particular some "not _____ but rather _____" concrete examples would help. My background isn't in ESL, but I've learned or dabbled enough in foreign languages to have some ideas as to how one can go about learning. However (and I say this knowing you're a pretty avid contributor to SEWP) it seems someone of your background has a lot to offer -- maybe in the SEWP versions of all the Wikipedia: guidelines that are pretty well-developed in English. Eager to continue the discussion. - PhilipR (talk) 07:01, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Just for my background, I have learnt English as a foreign language, I am not a native speaker. At first sight, constructions using a verb and a preposition look tempting. These are commonly known as phrasal verbs. They do however have two very big problems:
  • They are inaccurate, which meaning of put out was intended?
  • Their meaning can change rapidly, also based on the culture and background of the speaker.
IMO, it is therefore often better to use the original terms, rather than the phrasal verbs that replaced them. These words are often based on Latin, or Greek roots, and people with a Romance language background have an easier access at understanding them. At the worst, link to wiktionary, and provide an explanation. --Eptalon (talk) 11:31, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Very good points about phrasal verbs and common Latin/Gk roots. And also very good suggestion about Wiktionary. In en: I don't think people use Wiktionary links enough. No term is too complex if you have an excellent dictionary entry at hand, and many of us native speakers could create an excellent dictionary entry.
In the big picture most of these are training issues - helping well-intentioned editors learn to write better "simple English". We should brainstorm about ways we might do that. - Regards, PhilipR (talk) 22:58, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

brainstorming - training issues[change source]

This section is somewhat a follow-up to the previous topic, but with broader scope.

I have some ideas about helping editors write better Simple articles. I hope to start a brainstorming process to help improve SE Wikipedia:

  • Feedback from non-native readers - I believe this is the biggest lack for novice editors. I've studied several languages to different levels. I understand in general how learning another language is difficult. But I don't know what phrases are difficult for learners of English. I need feedback. Can we start a regular process to have non-native speakers review Simple English articles?
    • Workshops - See Talk:Special English. This idea came to me while editing that article. It's a special case of feedback -- not feedback on a whole article, but focusing on one or two sentences.
  • More examples -- I have not studied the examples on Wikipedia:How to write Simple English pages enough. Some appear very helpful. The example about Churchill's quote is great! The one about the sun appears very helpful also. However, the examples about sentence structure are clearly artificial. An artificial example is better than no example, but a relevant example is best. Perhaps we can come up with better examples.
  • User interface -- [complex, sorry]Wikipedia intentionally has a low barrier to entry. We don't want to make it difficult to edit, but it's not wrong to ask people to understand what they're editing. Perhaps a couple of pointers directly in the UI above the edit field -- "Avoid idiomatic expressions! Long, precise words are better than short, idiomatic ones!" or some such. :) [/complex]

I'm eager to hear other ideas. - Regards, PhilipR (talk) 03:06, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Actually the Wikipedia:Very good articles process might be useful for feedback too. I should learn more about the VGA process.- PhilipR (talk) 16:03, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Readability neglected[change source]

I would like to see more evidence-based information about readability on this page. As one comment said, there are too many ideas and the page is way too verbose for an article on simple English.

Simple English is all about readability, reading ease, which is closely related to comprehension, retention, reading speed, and reading persistence. That have been 80 years of research on readability and it would make sense to include some of that here.

One main concern is that the page assumes that simple English is an absolute, as if a text is either simple or not. It ignores the basic issue that simplicity and readability depend on both the text and the reader. While this page suggests that it is important to know the reader, there is no advice on how to do that or what that means. A text can be simple for one type of reader and not another.

One of the chief factors ignored in this page is literacy, the level of reading skill. The average reader in the U.S. is an adult of limited reading skill, with the average at the 9th-grade level. Nearly half read below the 7th-grade level, according to literacy surveys.

Experts recommend general instructions be written at the 9th-grade level while safety and health information be written at the 5th-grade level. We could do much worse than to follow these recommendations. Applying a readability formula would go a long way in helping authors in their application of other canons of simple English and effective writing.

If there is a consensus on this, I would be glad to add a short section on readability. For a good introduction to the research on readability, see my books, "Smart Language: Readers, Readability and the Grading of Text" and "Unlocking Language: The Classic Readability Studies."

I also have questions about the need for controlled vocabulary and Basic English here. We want people to be creative in writing. They can be creative and still write at a simple level. We also want readers to learn new and unfamiliar words. The occasional unfamiliar or new word will not affect readability. It is the average difficulty of words that count. This is an encyclopedia, after all, where people expect to learn new words.

Rudolf Flesch wrote an article attacking Ogden's Basic English in Harpers. He said, "It's not Basic and it's not English." He showed that too often using controlled vocabularies are more difficult than necessary because they require convoluted and unfamiliar ways of saying things. What is the evidence that Basic English improves comprehension? (talk) 21:57, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree with some of this. However, the facility for automated calculation of readability was removed from WP by its creator last year. Before, it was often used in discussions about articles. Readability measures will not be used widely until or unless we get an automated system back again. Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:52, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
A fairly good system is now available here: [1] Background information is available on Textual difficulty. Macdonald-ross (talk) 18:53, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

No description in talk page[change source]

When putting the "complex" label, or the "The English used in this article or section may not be easy for everybody to understand." label, it is hard for people to rectify or simplify the issue because there is nothing in the talk page that tells potential editors what needs to be done. Shouldn't there be a policy or rule for this? Songjin (talk) 06:25, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to put the 'complex' label on articles. In this wiki there are very few editors who are actively editing content. We would like to see other editors doing a bit of simplifying themselves rather than sticking labels on! Your idea of comments on the talk page is good; and another idea is to put a request onto the lead contributor's talk page. Better still would be to do some of the work. Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:45, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

"But" as the first word of a sentence?[change source]

I like the "simple" English idea, but it should remain grammatically correct or else new English speakers will completely confused in English usage. The word "but" is considered by some an acceptable word to begin a sentence. I don't care about that so do I wish to debate it, but in this article it is used incorrectly. Under Simple Sentence Structure > Guidelines > 4. > Second example it says, "But Mary Jones arrived first and bought the remaining three apples." Why is "but" in there at all? If we're using this sentence as a complete sentence, and without connecting it to the previous sentence, then the word "but" is absolutely irrelevant here. Instead, it should simply be "Mary Jones arrived first and bought the remaining three apples." In this case, starting with the word "but" will only confuse new English speakers. I can't imagine who on earth would create such a ridiculous sentence for "simple" English. I will refer you to this page where it is stated:

A sentence beginning with and or but will tend to draw attention to itself and its transitional function. Writers should examine such sentences with two questions in mind: (1) would the sentence and paragraph function just as well without the initial conjunction? (2) should the sentence in question be connected to the previous sentence? If the initial conjunction still seems appropriate, use it.

I think #1 applies here. It does just as well without the conjunction and will not confuse new English speakers or children. Magnoliasouth (talk) 14:02, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

That would all be so if the sentence was in isolation: but it is not. A whole paragraph is being discussed, and the sentences bear a relationship of context with each other. It is the second sentence that makes the 'but' a plausible start to the next sentence. However, the third sentence is not the best choice, for other reasons. It does not flow well. I will work out a better way; see what you think. Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:50, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Units of Measure[change source]

Are most people who read Simple English Wikipedia young people who are learning to read or older people who speak another language? If most of the people are young people, then Simple English Wikipedia should write the time, distance or weight the British or American way, but if most of the people are from other countries, then Simple English Wikipedia should use the international formats. The internatiomal way of writing the time is to use the 24 hour clock and the international way of writing distance or weight is to use the metric system. Martinvl (talk) 13:25, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

We just don't know. There never has been a survey of Simple users. On the specific point of the 24-hour clock, aside from transport systems, it is still not generally used in the US and UK, and it is a safe bet that most of our readers come from one of those two countries. Nor is the metric system widely used except by technically qualified people. So there you are! Often pages give both versions of distances and weights. Macdonald-ross 16:09, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Firstly, if most of our readers are people for whom English is a second language, then it is highly likely that they do not come from the UK or the US, but from a country where English is not an official language. In such cases, they will be far more familiar with the 24 hour clock and the metric system than with the 12 hour clock or the imperial/customary system. This is a fundemental question for the whole of the simple English Wikipedia. Martinvl 17:32, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I heard you the first time, and didn't agree. However, you can raise it on Wikipedia:Simple talk which is our central page for discussion. Others can then take part in the discussion more easily. Macdonald-ross (talk) 16:39, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Written English[change source]

I've written the following as part of section 1, because I think it's needed.

Written English rather than spoken English[change source]

Like many languages, there can be differences between English as written, and English as spoken. We use English as written, because that is best for an encyclopedia. Also, spoken English varies between one country and another, more than written English does. Examples are:

  1. Words that make other words stronger are used much less in writing. "Very bad", "very beautiful" are typical for spoken English. Instead, in written English leave 'very' out: to write that a thing is bad or beautiful is quite strong enough. To say something like "a saline solution has lots of salt" is worse than saying "a saline solution is one with salt in it". This is because 'lots of' tells the reader nothing, and is also baby talk. There are ways of saying how much salt is in a solution of water if the page really needs that fact.
  2. Written English is more formal: contractions are not (aren't) used. An exception is when quoting a person's direct speech.
  3. The use of idiom on our pages needs to be done carefully. Idiom is the use of figures of speech, such as metaphors, which are quite common. Figures of speech are phrases where the meaning is not the literal dictionary meaning. To simplify an idiom, you have to get at the real meaning behind the phrase. So, someone who kicks the bucket has died. To lay one's cards on the table is to be clear about a secret, or about a plan. Sometimes an idiom cannot be 'translated' into simple English without damaging the paragraph. Then it is perhaps best to leave it in. No rule works all the time.

Comment, please. Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:21, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

  1. While I think I generally agree with your first point, I strongly disagree with your example. In that example, "lots of" actually does add meaning and would be perfectly appropriate for written English, if informal. Consider the formal alternative - "A saline solution is a solution that contains a significant quantity of salt." Less simple, more formal, but ultimately the same as saying "lots of." And clearly acceptable in written English.

The alternative to "lots of salt" is to say how salty it is, such as "30‰". Macdonald-ross (talk) 18:12, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

  1. I would change the second point to say that formal written English doesn't use contractions. Informal written English does use contractions.
  2. I agree with the third point.
Just "my two cents," Philosopher Let us reason together. 16:33, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps it should say that encyclopedia articles should - and I don't know how to simplify this - "avoid informality." --Philosopher Let us reason together. 16:35, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, this is an old suggestion. But since it was never used, it can't hurt to reply and maybe re-start discussion. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 16:39, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Contractions and colloquialisms are not used in Wikipedia generally because of its aspirations to be an encyclopedia. We have never, on Simple, countermanded that general principle. However, my own objection to "lots of" in science is that it says nothing. If quantity is a real issue, then we can use a metric to say how much salt is in the water. If it is not an issue, then why are we saying it? Also, younger English-speaking people are not our only audience. Colloquialisms can be difficult for a non-English speaker to understand, and usually cannot be found in a standard dictionary. Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:52, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

Because there might be "lots of" it in it, but we don't know how much exactly and/or don't know how to find out? I do agree that colloquialisms should generally be avoided and that contractions, etc. should be avoided - but because they are either not Simple or because they are inappropriate for "formal" or "encyclopedic" English, not because of any (nonexistent) rules for "written" English. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 11:39, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
Have to agree with Philosopher here. The reason we don't use contractions isn't because its more formal or that it is encyclopaedic English. We don't use them because we consider them not simple. And "lots of" would be perfectly acceptable on Simple English. We try to use a less formal English here because less formal English is simpler and easier for people learning English (as well as children) to grasp. It is one of the reasons people learning English are often pointed to watch sitcoms because its easier to pick up the language from the less formal English. -DJSasso (talk) 12:38, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

What not to do :[change source]

I am learning to write. Thanks for helping me.

I saw the section called "What not to do". I noticed two things :

Point 3 (about not to use contractions) is made of two propositions : "what not to do", and what to do. Both propositions are linked with a double dot.

Point 9 (about not to put links in titles) is also made of two propositions : "what not to do", and what to do. In this case, there are two sentences (separated by a dot).

Would it make any sense to use similar constructions for both the points? — This unsigned comment was added by Borut Kantuser (talk • changes).

I have made the change that you suggested. Thanks, Racepacket (talk) 12:22, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Edit request[change source]

The part is the Simple Sentence Structure section, paragraph 3. What does "erudite" mean? (Okay, it means "scholarly" or "learned", but I had to go to Wiktionary) I suggest changing it to "smart" or something like that. Agent 78787 (talk) 03:21, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Done. --Jeffwang (talk) 03:29, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but something more needs to be said. That's exactly why Simple wiktionary is there. If a simple change of word does not work, for example if it changes the meaning, then a link to wikt can be made. With the help of your real dictionary, which most regular editors keep nearby, you can make an entry to wikt and so complete the link. Simple wikt is part of this wiki, and users need to get to know about it. See wikt:Main Page Macdonald-ross (talk) 06:53, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Bad grammar in A Real-World Example section[change source]

The simplified version reads: "After the Sun reaches a point where it can no longer get bigger, it will literally explode. But not like a supernova."

The problem is that "But not like a supernova." is a sentence fragment. This could be fixed by either reattaching it: "it will literally explode, but not like a supernova." or reintroducing the noun and verb: "it will literally explode. However, it will not explode like a supernova." I prefer the first option. (talk) 20:31, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

I don't see a problem with it - it's not a common use, but having a subordinate clause act as a complete sentence is fine if not done too often. The paragraph in the example is a good example of when it is fine. (There is a missing comma in the sentence beginning with "Rather", though.) --Philosopher Let us reason together. 00:07, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
No, it is not fine, it is incorrect grammar. There are rules for correcting this all over the web. This particular example doesn't even have a subject or a verb! It says right on the project page, "Do not... Use poor grammar or incorrect spelling." Having this poor grammar right as the main example is egregious. (talk) 19:26, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
I tend to agree with the critics -- and what's more, it isn't even good science! Macdonald-ross (talk) 19:35, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

how i create new article[change source]

how can i create new article.... could anyboby help me please.... thank you... Shyamu kaushal (talk) 14:44, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

See the message left for you at your own talk page User talk:Shyamu kaushal. Thank you User:Rus793 (talk) 15:32, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Dang[change source]

Dang is a district lies in Rapti zone of Nepal... It is one of the beautiful city of Nepal.... Shyamu kaushal (talk) 14:48, 18 June 2015 (UTC)