The Best Places To Get The “Same” Text Written For Different “Levels” is one of my most popular “Best” lists and, thanks to reader Kev, I learned about a new site I’m adding to it. It’s called Simplish.
Simplish will “simplify” and/or summarize any text up to 2,500 words for free (you have to pay for longer documents) and, though I’m not entirely sure of this feature, it also apparently will do the same for translation (e.g. input a document in one language and then simplify or summarize it into another language).
In many ways it’s similar to Rewordify, another tool on that list, though Rewordify is free for longer documents and, I think, works better (though it, too, has its limitations).
I was much more impressed with Simplish’s ability to summarize than its simplification skills. Here’s a partial example of how it “simplified” a paragraph from this article in today’s New York Times (its “footnoting” of more difficult words was interesting):
For me, the bottom line – for me – is that there are so many other resources on that “Best” list of human-assisted simplified articles that I question if having imperfectly-done automatic versions are really worth it. But I’m sure there will be technological advancements in the coming years that will have sites like Simplish and Rewordify much better at their jobs.
As a university lecturer to journalism students, I recommend this to my clients to interpret scientific and medical texts. This is particularly useful for summarising scientific documents. I think it also would be helpful to foreign students whose first language is not English and whose core vocabulary in another language is limited at first, especially when going into higher education. The medical translator works well for A&P.
Thanks very much Larry for the review. Certainly much remains to be done to improve Simplish. It currently has the only up-to-date Basic Dictionary of Science but this capability is limited since it has only slightly over 30,000 scientific words in it. The system is able to do multi-lingual multi-document summaries but certainly could be further improved; see for instance https://www.simplish.org/examples/summaries/summary6/ for a summary of the history of Rome in English derived from original texts in English, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese.
In our defense, I have to point out that the site is not commercial and was started in 2008 as the main vehicle for our artificial cognition systems and virtual assistants to interact amongst themselves, acquire, store, summarize and retrieve knowledge, rather than human use! An intern pointed out that both the simplification function and the summarizing functions (which allow our systems to learn and improve upon themselves) would be really useful for ESL, and so we opened it up to general use and tried to give it a more conventional feel; the charges being aimed at making this service self-financing rather than generate profit (which we have not actually managed since we set it up). We continue to work hard to improve the Basic English dictionary, Scientific dictionary, the Legal dictionary and latterly a Philosophy dictionary, which are necessary when converting or summarizing specialized material.
Finally, you are right, there are a lot of resources of human-assisted simplified articles and automatic versions are imperfectly-done but… they are available on demand, for as long as it takes, and can process gigantic amounts of data so yes, I believe that automatic versions are really worth it, and certainly there will be further technological advancements in the coming years that will make automatic systems much better in time.