If you are into technical English you will inevitably encounter the Simplified Technical English (STE) which sounds very similar, but in fact a different thing and you need to know how to make the difference between the two (it can be a little confusing).

A little bit of history: STE started in the airline industry. European mechanics had trouble doing the same tasks as American and British mechanics because of language barriers. Differences in notation made it hard to know original parts from compatible parts. All of the airline experts agreed on Simplified Technical English as a new standard.

As we noted above STE is not the same thing as general technical English. But STE is a great example of a controlled language which still exists in the aerospace industry and makes things a lot easier if this is your field.

It’s true that over time, STE grew beyond its original audience, and is now used in a variety of other industries.

But technical English is a much broader term, so don’t confuse them.

Practice Technical English

Probably the best (and perhaps the easiest) way to master technical English is practicing it.

Unfortunately, you are unlikely to find a lot of information on technical English in the field of your choice. So, it makes sense taking the initiative and starting to learn technical English by practicing it or in other simpler words by reading and understanding documents in technical English.

This can be a little hard at the beginning, but as you learn and memorize the new words your understanding will start to improve.

Practice makes perfect, so open an owner’s manual and see if you can break the wording down to its basics.

  • Locate conjunctions, like “and,” “so,” “but,” and “or.” These tiny words connect other words.
  • Find pronouns, like “he,” “she,” and “it.”
  • Locate prefixes and suffixes. Prefixes go at the beginning of a word, (“Hyperactive”), and suffixes are found at the end, (“helpful”).
  • Define base words, stripped of their prefixes and suffixes.

Practicing these skills will help you master technical English.

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