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Communications Education

Learning TechSpeak in a New Language? 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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Learning TechSpeak in a New Language?

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  • by vga_init ( 589198 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @07:49PM (#11187422) Journal
    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.
    • 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!
  • Portuguese/Spanish (Score:2, Informative)

    by BlueRibbon ( 603297 )
    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 Engl
    • I'm Spanish, and I can assure you that we use Megabytes. Haven't heard "Megabitas" in all my life.
      • Oh, I see. I was deceived by this site: . 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? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TFGeditor ( 737839 )
      "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.

      • Yeah, and a Windows machine would be Bluescreenus Maximus :-P
      • 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.
    • 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.
      • 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..)
  • KDE's glossary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Santana ( 103744 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @08:07PM (#11187601) Homepage

    The KDE's Spanish Translation Team have done a very good job, take a look at their glossary: []

  • by Paradise Pete ( 33184 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @08:18PM (#11187697) Journal
    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.

  • People (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @09:13PM (#11188040) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by peu ( 163472 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @09:21PM (#11188087) Homepage
    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 :)

    • 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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @09:47PM (#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.
  • 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
  • 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 [].

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

      • 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. :)
    • 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 techn

  • Set Goals (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blixblix ( 695632 )
    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
  • Is it Costa Rica by any chance?


  • by dmayle ( 200765 ) * on Sunday December 26, 2004 @10:48PM (#11188586) Homepage Journal

    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

  • (Score:4, Informative)

    by Calaf ( 78730 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @01:05AM (#11189178) []

    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.
  • 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.

  • by argux ( 568146 )
    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
  • 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
  • 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
  • There was an embarrassingly long period of time during which I wrote 'create' without an 'e' at the end :-)
  • 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."

  • 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 thro
  • 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)

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