Controlled languages are specially defined subsets of natural language which help to create clear and concise documents, and thus insure coherent communication. In this paper we approach controlled language through the definitions of specialized terms with a view to establishing a metalanguage for the basic format of definitions. Our research focuses on a corpus of specialized terms related to tides, extracted from the
Glossary of Coastal Terminology elaborated by the NOAA Coastal Services Center.
The methodology used for elaborating controlled-language definitions is based on the Functional-Lexematic Model (FLM) (Martín Mingorance 1984, 1989, 1995; Faber and Mairal 1999). The conceptual structure of a domain is made explicit within definitions that are coherent in both their micro and macrostructure (Faber and Terced or Sánchez 2001). The linguistic description of any specialized concepts should do the following: (1) make category membership explicit; (2) reflect its relations with other concepts within the same category; (3) specify its essential attributes and features (Faber et al., 2005).
Our results show that the use of controlled language in the definition of terms makes their conceptual description more coherent and systematic. Controlled language increases terminological consistency, facilitates standardization, simplifies syntax, and avoids semantic ambiguities.