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Learning TechSpeak in a New Language?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the technological-idioms-in-non-english dept.

Communications 64

dlthomas asks: "I'm a tech worker moving to a country where English is not the primary language. While I've found lots of resources for learning the language, I'm wondering what resources people know of for learning technical jargon (and any unique grammatical constructions) in languages other than English. I'm personally looking for Latin-American Spanish, but would still be interested in seeing broader discussion."

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Interesting observation (2, Interesting)

vga_init (589198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187422)

I don't think this qualifies as "jargon," but I found it interesting when asking a Chinese friend of mine to teach me some Mandarin that the term for computer translates literally to mean "electronic brain." That's a lot cooler than the English etymology.

Re:Interesting observation (3, Interesting)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11189859)

and to that point: a friend related to me how in icelandic "computer" is a compound word composed of the two words "number" and "prophet".... very interesting indeed!

Re:Interesting observation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190071)

I live in Japan, and the name of my favourite computer parts shop translates literally as "high speed electronic brain"

Hooray. Who gives a fuck?

Re:Interesting observation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11192584)

Good shop, but too expensive.

Portuguese/Spanish (2, Informative)

BlueRibbon (603297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187512)

My mother tongue is Portuguese, which is a Latin language, similar to Spanish.
I'm not absolutely sure if things in Latin America are just like in Portugal. We don't have much of our own jargon, we mainly use the English words or some simple translation/neologisms. Maybe you'll have a little more trouble with Spanish speaking people, they are very tight to their language and are known to use their own words for everything ("all" English movies have Spanish doublings).
As an example, we use Megabytes as English people do, but Spanish use Megabitas.
You can use google and search for Spanish Tech Dictionary (found this one: http://www.spanish.bz/technology.htm).

Re:Portuguese/Spanish (1)

Saiyine (689367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187628)

I'm Spanish, and I can assure you that we use Megabytes. Haven't heard "Megabitas" in all my life.

Re:Portuguese/Spanish (1)

BlueRibbon (603297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187730)

Oh, I see. I was deceived by this site: http://www.spanish.bz/technology.htm . I'm sorry.
But do you agree that you have a very close connection to your language and that it's common for you to use your own words (for most stuff, tech included)? Or is it just my stereotype that's wrong?

Tech Taxonomy? (2, Interesting)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187669)

"We don't have much of our own jargon, we mainly use the English words or some simple translation/neologisms."

This is true in most non-English languages, but it makes me wonder if the worldwide spread of tech calls for a standardized naming convention for technology, similar to the taxonomic system for plants and animals. Under this system, a black widow spider is "Latrodectus mactrans" no matter the local language. Ergo, a "server" might become "Servius filum" or whatever.

Re:Tech Taxonomy? (1)

dlthomas (762960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11194348)

Unfortunately, this would prove impractical. People will still refer to things primarily by their original names and most wouldn't bother to learn all the new ones, and using the new names in conversation would distract from the matter at hand as much as giving the word in English does.

Re:Portuguese/Spanish (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11196318)

Germany (and Austria, AFAIK) is the same. My German tutor (a native speaker) explained that this is true over most of Europe (and thus probably Latin America, too). Might depend, though, as you say, on how "tight to [a] language" people are; I believe that the French government has been trying to promote French terms like "ordinateur" over English terms for quite a while.

Re:Portuguese/Spanish (1)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197610)

I'm in Germany as well and have found that this is true. But here, you have to be carefull for those that claim that they don't speak English (most speak a little, just don't want to admit to it). That and dialects can eat you alive...

Anyway, I've found that the easiest way to learn is to actually just talk with someone that is native. You both end up learning things from each other.

My favorite was when a German friend asked "What did she mean when she said: I akss you that?" (ask..)

Re:Portuguese/Spanish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11205486)

That's only in Spain, in Latin America we use Megabytes, Mouse, computadora (quite simple), cidi (read CD or ceh deh)

KDE's glossary (5, Informative)

Santana (103744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187601)

The KDE's Spanish Translation Team have done a very good job, take a look at their glossary: http://kurly.org/kde/glosario [kurly.org]

Re:KDE's glossary (2, Funny)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191813)

Yeah, but you have to wonder how the KDE team reacted with the idea of the Spanish language not having a native "K"?

* runs *

Re:KDE's glossary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11192578)

uh? Spanish does have "K". What does 'native "K"' mean

Re:KDE's glossary (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11192868)

It means you won't find any Spanish words, at least ones which were not derived from other languages, that contain the letter "K". "W" and "Y" are also subject to this, I believe.

Just the same as native English words do not have "ñ" or "ch" (being considered as a single letter in the alphabet).

Re:KDE's glossary (1)

yuri benjamin (222127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11204421)

I'm pretty sure there's a "y" in spanish. What's the spanish word for "and"?

Re:KDE's glossary (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11205456)

Yeah, you're right. I forgot about words like "y" and "ya". I'm still not sure "K" appears in native words though. The example santana gave appeared to be for the metric prefix "kilo" (which stems from Latin, I assume?)

Latin american spanish (3, Interesting)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187697)

English terms are fairly common. A few to know are:

red == network (or any old kind of net)
teclado = keyboard
ratón == mouse, but everybody I know says mouse.
tarjeta == card
disco duro == hard disk
programador == programmer

Many are obvious: Computadora, programa, cable.

Plain English ones:
hub, router, server, web, internet, dvd & cd (usually pronounced as the english letters!)

I'm sure I'll think of a bunch more right after I post this. One not really technical but odd: a VCR is (at least around here) a "vay achay" as in the spanish pronunciation of the letters V H. Similarly, a BMW is a bay emmay.

Here are some.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11188009)

1. El Imperio Malvado
2. Micro$uavidad.
3. Abra la Fuente
4. Ningunos Dados

Re:Here are some.... (1)

CaptainCheese (724779) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188398)

other handy spanish slashdot phrases.

5. BSD está muriendo.
6. Primer poste.
7. Usted ha fallado.

and of course the ever useful

8. Su error lógico es que ningún residente del slashdot tiene una novia.

Re:Here are some.... (1)

BlakeB395 (772298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190034)


5. BSD is dying
6. First Post
7. You have made a mistake. (Your falt.)
8. Your mistake is that nobody on slashdot has a girlfriend.


People (3, Insightful)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188040)

The best resource is people. Find some computer enthusiasts and talk to them in the language you're trying to learn. (Resist English!) You'll pick up the terminology just by being around it and being corrected when you use the wrong one.

Argentina (3, Insightful)

peu (163472) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188087)

Si estas viniendo a Argentina no te hagas problemas, los terminos tecnicos en ingles los entendemos todos...
Simplemente rodealos con las palabras en español apropiadas.

(for the Spanish Disabled)
If you're coming to Argentina don't worry, the technical jargon we all understand.
Just surround them with the proper spanish words :)


Re:Argentina (1)

Kyogen (841042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11219378)

Are there many North Americans down there working in the online marketing field? I'll be going down in 2 months for a while... Charlie

Observation (3, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188227)

The country I now live in has a different language from my mother tongue, and it's not English :)
Just as with the 'normal' language, I learned all the tech terms by observing. After you get the basics of the language just read tech magazines or books, surf the local tech web sites, talk to computer nerds or listen to them talk. You can try visiting computer-related eshops which have pictures and just browse randomly, noticing the categories various things are listed under or descriptions given.
For example, if there is a picture of a memory module with the following description:
"ECC awoseihgna 266MHz pijsdae (aikjrst PC2100), sjlfdg 2GB."
It should be obvious that "awoseihgna" means registered, "pijsdae" means memory, "aikjrst" stands for standard or compatible, and "sjlfdg" is size or capacity. Note: sample words created by dropping hands on keyboard.
It (everything, not just the eshop thing) worked for me, and I think the talking/listening part is very important, as A) you will hear the pronunciation and B) many things have completely different 'official' and commonly used names, like box vs. computer in English but with 100:1 usage ratio.
Hope this helps.

Re:Observation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11188414)

I see you live in oqenboieb! Where are you? I've been living in giou5awaeh city for three years now, in orpwnewg lsdahb. Let's meet up and have some agelaeogih agl...

in japan.. (1)

Naikrovek (667) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188282)

all they do is throw a japanese accent on the word and its understood. processor-a, megahertzura, etc.

the words are american, and they're pronounced as americans pronounce them. ever say they words "Here's my resume," "I drive a coupe," or "it is hard to fillet a fish?" If so, then you've pronounced French words in an American way. Do the same in whatever country you're travelling to (why didn't you specify, btw?) and you'll be fine.

in short: just throw the native accent on the word and you'll do fine.

Re:in japan.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11192613)

"Just throw the native accent on the word and you'll do fine"... what condescending bullshit.

Re:in japan.. (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197945)

although "waiyaressu" and "rautaa" and stuff will get you nowhere...

just a few words that are important
wireless is actually "musen" (literally "no wire")
router is actually "ruutaa" which sounds like a type of animal that digs through roots -_-;;;

also you can refer to your wireless router as "musen kikai" ("wireless machine") but i'd prefer to use "musen ruutaa"

now the wireless signal itself is NOT "shigunaaru" but "shingo" as in traffic signal

other than that, i really can't think of any other japanese words that aren't loan words from english

interlingual glossaries (1)

CaptainCheese (724779) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188303)

Generally you can buy english-to-another-language glossaries of the specialist technical terms of scientific and engineering disciplines for most major langauges.

I'm not entirely sure if this is true in every discipline, as I can hardly be bothered to check this one, but here's a very pertinent book from Amazon [amazon.com].

Your keywords, should you choose to accept them, are : glossary, english, spanish, computer

Re:interlingual glossaries (1)

dlthomas (762960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11192795)

Looked at a couple of these, they're expensive and are designed as reference material rather than learning material. Better than nothing, but not a first choice. Thanks, though.

Learn the Basics (1)

blixblix (695632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188339)

As an English teacher in Berlin of 5 years, I've very often been contracted to teach "Business English" to total beginners. It's useless.

When learning a language first work on the basics. It's a waist of time to focus on a specific area before you can even ask where the toilett is. Once you get to a certain point start reading about things that interest you (e.g. computer books or magazines). That way your reinforcing the basics while learning the terms you need. Technical writing is usually very straight-forward as far as grammar goes.

Go there early if you can to learn. Learning Spanish there is many times faster than learning it at home.

Good Luck

PS: Just because it's spelled the same as in English don't expect to be understood when you pronounce it like in English. ;) (at least not in Spain)

Re:Learn the Basics (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11189727)

Let me get this straight:

As an English teacher ~. It's a waist of time ~. Once you get to a certain point start reading about things that interest you ~.

Yeah, right. Let me guess: you're a former TOEFL student, but staying awake in class was just too hard.

Re:Learn the Basics (1)

blixblix (695632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11204961)

It's surely not a waste of time to learn the basics first. I'm saying you first need to learn to string sentences together before doing the "English for my job" thing. Doing otherwise is one of the fastest ways to frustration.

And the reading suggestion is a step towards the goal of learning job/interest related vocab.

And if I'm a former EFL student, I sure did learn well. :)

Re:Learn the Basics (1)

ChibiOne (716763) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191707)

Just because it's spelled the same as in English don't expect to be understood when you pronounce it like in English. ;) (at least not in Spain)

Penninsular Spanish (Spain's) has quite a bunch of differences from Latin American Spanish. Heck, even among Latin American countries, words and phrases differ.

I'm from Mexico. Here's some examples (English/Mexico/Spain:

  • File / Archivo / Fichero
  • Byte / Byte / Octeto
  • Click / Click / Pinchar
As you can see, we tend to keep the original English word for technical jargon... Except, of course, that we adapt the pronunctiation, sometimes creating words that are not recognized by the Real Academia de la Lengua.

Set Goals (2, Insightful)

blixblix (695632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188457)

Another thing you want to do is set goals. Give yourself a date where you want to totally turn off English (and any other languages you know). 2-3 months is usually good. However, in the shops you should speak Spanish from day one. It can be funny.

Another thing,
In some countries, although less in Spanish-speaking countries, you really have to watch out for people wanting to talk English with you once your Spanish gets good enough. When I first started learning German here in Berlin, I sometimes had to be very persistent in speaking German with people. At first you think it's just because your German sucks. But even after 6 years of speaking the language some people still respond in English.

Gone through this... (2, Funny)

dmayle (200765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11188586)

As someone who's gone through this, I can assure you, technical language is going to be the least of your problems. I moved to France without speaking any French, and technical French was what I learned first and easiest, as there's a lot of influence from English, and it's what I used most. My French colleagues say the same thing about their English. Technical jargon is what they learned first and easiest.

Conversational language is what you'll have the most problems with. While there will be only one word for database, or network, there are three different ways to say that you're happy, or 19 different ways to express you feelings for someone.

So, to sum up... Don't sweat the small stuff, and start boning up for everything else...

So, to sum up

more french examples (2, Funny)

sco_is_for_babies (726059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191718)

French technophiles say this stuff all the time. After all, who do you think invented "Le Script Kiddie"? - cr43ndR3 mo1 1337 h4X0r - 4V01r w00t?

barrapunto.com (4, Informative)

Calaf (78730) | more than 9 years ago | (#11189178)

http://barrapunto.com/ [barrapunto.com]

A Linux/tech news and discussion site in Spanish built on Slashcode. Like /. but not as active. Has contributors and posters from both Spain and Latin America.

Re:barrapunto.com (2, Interesting)

dlthomas (762960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11192515)

Free and effective, we seem to have a winner. I'll definately start reading it. Thanks a bunch!

read bilingual materials (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11189487)

Once you've learned the basics, a good way to acquire specialized vocabulary is to read materials in the language for which English translations are available so that you can easily find out what terms mean and check your understanding. Manuals, for example, may be available both in English and in Spanish.

RE: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11189580)

same here in guatemala, most tech terms are (usualy abbriviated) english ones.

BSD nunca se muere


es_MX (1)

argux (568146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11189809)

There's a reason it won't be too difficult to learn the technical (especially computer) jargon: we use practically the same vocabulary as in english. And there's a reason for that too, at least in my experience: most of my "computer" or "geeky" online computer-related life happens in english, and that's the case for everyone. I often find myself having trouble trying to find the right word in spanish for something that immediately pops up in my head as an english word. If I want to talk to some friend about a computer case, it might take me quite a while to figure out what word is the correct one, in this case... uhh... hold on... well, I'm sure you get the point.

The thing is that, at least for people like me, it is so much easier to ask for help in an english-speaking forum because I have a lot of trouble trying to understand what they are talking about when they translate every single technical word. Of course, there's a basic vocabulary that you'll have to learn, as a previous poster said. I could add: password=contraseña, driver=controlador, mousepad=tapete, port=puerto, and windows=esa chingadera (only likely to be understood if you're moving to Mexico, though).

For acronyms, you're in safe lands. You'll just have to learn your alphabet: USB=u ese be, DVD=de ve de... etc. I have no idea how to pronounce PCMCIA or whatever the hell that's spelled.

Oh, I just remembered. Case=gabinete Yay!

Tech's always speak english (1)

tute666 (688551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190076)

damn easy. anybody in it knows basic english, its completly necessary. catch up on spanish in the office, it'll be the best place to learn

Experience in France (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190087)

I've been working now for over a year in France. Officially the French try very hard to avoid Anglicisms, but in reality, I've found that many of the tech words are either a direct translation or taking directly from English. For example, when talking about our version control system, we use the words checkiner and checkouter.

There are times, though, when you just have to learn by asking questions. Me, I learned on the job. It was fairly easy because there was lots of context.

Technical jargon is full of english keywords. (1)

mfarah (231411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190421)

English dominates much of the technical jargon,
although sometimes is adapted into spanish forms. For example: "pen drive", "diskette", "deprecado" [from "deprecated"], "bootear" [from "to boot"], etcetera. Some words, on the other hand, have a clear corresponding word in spanish, so no one says, for example, "hard disk" for "disco duro" or "case" for "gabinete".

If you have a more than a passing grasp of spanish, you shouldn't have problems learning the technical jargon.

On the other hand, if you're coming to Chile, the local (general use) language WILL be most difficult to manage. The stuff we speak can't be called spanish anymore.

It certainly is a new language (1)

oren (78897) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190575)

There was an embarrassingly long period of time during which I wrote 'create' without an 'e' at the end :-)

HP Unix (1)

mjpaci (33725) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190640)

Please note that in Germany, when you hear someone refer to HP Unix, it will sound like Happy Unix to the American ear. I can speak German about as well as an autistic 4-year old Dane, so it too me a little while to understand what the German guy I was speaking with was referring to.

"H" sounds like "Hah" and "P" sounds like "Pay" so you get "Hah-Pay UNIX."


Newgroups/IRC (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197606)

I'm a native english speaker, fluent in German, and not quite fluent, but fairly skilled with 4 other languages. One thing that I've found to be extremely helpful in learning a language, especially tech jargon, is to join newsgroups or chatrooms in that language. Newsgroups especially, and chatrooms to a lesser extent, allow you to get used to the language and jargon without the fast pace of a conversation. Since there is already an expected delay before a response, it can give you a chance to think through the language more slowley when you construct a response, and allows you to get more used to the language.
I found that my German improved dramatically when I became interested in an open source project in which german was the native language of all of the core developers. By reading comments written in german, and participating in the german chatroom and mailing list I was able to become quite skilled with the language. I also found that the other developers were very helpful at aiding me in improving my skills in the language. Since a couple of them spoke fluent english, if there was something that I didn't know how to say, or said wrong, then they would help me to get it right. At this point, it's rare that it comes through that german isn't my native language when I'm participating in chats, and I can speak in the language much more intuitively than I was able to before.
The biggest problem with this is that I found in some cases it made my accent worse. Since I had been using german primarily via text, I had a tendancy to heavily "Americanize" the pronounciation in my head, to the point that there were a few times that when I tried to say the word aloud it was nearly unrecognizable as the actual word I was trying to say. Luckily, I found that once you know the words and the language, it's not terribly difficult (at least for me) to pick up on the correct pronounciation once you hear it a couple of times.

South Africa... (1)

Shadow_139 (707786) | more than 9 years ago | (#11198461)

A friend of mine worked for Dell "*EVIL*" Tech Support for Ireland and South Africa on Latatude (laptops)
The funniest calls were from the South Africa where people say..
I can't get my Stiffy into my laptop...
I can't find my Stiffy drive...
My Stiffy is stuck in the hole...
Hehehe, i.e. Floppy Disks = Stiffy, in S. Africa, (for US people Stiffy=Boner/Hard Wood)

"Clutch my testes, bloody squirrel humpers!!" -Happy Noodle Boy

Read, read a lot, use it a lot (1)

al912912 (835343) | more than 9 years ago | (#11201459)

Even though a dictionary may help you out. As with any language, the simplest, most entertaining, form of lerning it is by being in contact with it. Read tech forums, write tech stuff in english, when you don't understand a word, then you can look for it in your english dictionary or use some translation tool like Altavista. By reading your post I can see that you know your english well, it shouldn't be that hard learning some new words. I'm a mexican and that's whta has worked for me, you can't get as good IT literature in spanish as you can in english. Words of advise: please don't think that writing some cryptinc message in 1337 or some other weird writing is cool hacker jargon, the best way to express yourself is te way more people can undestand you while expressing what you want more precisely.
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