Simplified languages are instruments for inclusion aiming to overcome language barriers

Leichte Sprache (LS; easy-to-read German; cf. “Leichte Sprache – Ein Ratgeber”) is enshrined in German law (BITV2.0, 2011). It defines a variety of German characterized by simplified syntactic constructions and a small vocabulary (cf. Basic English). It provides barrier-free information for a wide spectrum of people with cognitive impairments, learning difficulties and/or a low level of literacy in the German language. The levels of difficulty of a range of syntactic constructions were systematically evaluated with LS readers as part of the recent LeiSA project (see, e.g., Bock, 2019). That study identified a number of constructions that were evaluated as being easy to comprehend but which fell beyond the definition of LS.

The latter observation inspired our work on (Extended) Leichte Sprache determining the grammar that underpins the writing-support system EasyTalk.

  • We set up LST, a treebank with 29,170 trees, extracted from a collection of 245 LS documents from a variety of sources freely available on the internet, spanning the years 2018–2021. To build a representative data set of LS texts of sufficient variety, we selected a broad spectrum of institutions, authors, and validators: according to the credits, at least 153 authors, 116 validators, and 53 institutions were involved in the creation of these texts. We deploy the dependency parser PARZU (Sennrich et al., 2013) to obtain the syntactic structures. (The parsing accuracy with a random sample of 100 sentences is 96%—comparable to results for prose text (Tritscher, 2016); currently, we correct all errors in order to launch the treebank for public use). In search queries into LST, the sub-corpus, comprising only those texts that were proof-read by LS readers, can be distinguished from the one, including texts without explicitly mentioned LS-reader participation. The treebank is available upon request to Karin Harbusch.
  • We define Extended Leichte Sprache based on a comparative treebank study into spoken and written German, and LST;
  • We developed and evaluated EasyTalk, a writing assistance tool for fast and correct typing in Exteded Leichte Sprache, largely based on computational linguistic processing, developed to support the target group of LS-readers to activiely participate in written discourse – thus becoming LS-writers themselves. The system uses real-time natural language processing to provide efficient prediction and interactive, context-sensitive grammar support as well as customizable AAC symbols and read-out functionality.

For more details on EasyTalk, see the following publications:

For information in Easy-to-Read English, see:

The following video shows the system at work:

The video above shows how a text is written EasyTalk.

The video above shows how a text is written EasyTalk.

Do you want to learn more about EasyTalk?

If you are interested in learning more about EasyTalk and/or trying the system yourself – feel welcome to contact us:
We are happy to get in touch with you!