Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Profiling VOA's Special English

The Voice Of America (VOA) has been using its own version of simplified English since 1959 and their archives are available to the public. I could only find one economics-business related article quickly though: "Simple English: American Agriculture: Shrinking but More Productive" [Profile]

The most interesting recent economic-business article I could find on the whole VOA site was about China buying into African oil, but it doesn't say it was written in special English: "China Oil Giant Reaches Deal to Buy Major Stake in Nigerian Oil Field". [Profile]

Comparing the profiles of the two articles:
China oil, not simplified: (80,4,8,8) vs.
American agriculture, simplified: (64,4,8,24)
where (first1000words,second1000,academic,off-list)

Clearly, the VOA special English article routinely uses a lot more simple vocabulary, but note that 80% is near the 77% of the Wikipedia article I profiled. A more detailed study is obviously needed both characterizing lexically and grammatically these different forms of simplified writing and maybe also some objective computer-based measurement of how quickly students can read and understand these different kinds of writing.

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