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I have a software application that uses a grid system for layout. In this grid system, the user can split and merge rows and columns.

I have this phrase in English (to show how fast the operations are):

Split. Split. Merge. Done.

In German, I believe that split and merge (as verbs) will carry over just fine (at least to my target audience) (correct me, if I am wrong). So I would have:

Split. Split. Merge. Fertig.

Does this carry over well? It needs to sound relatively informal; does fertig work in this instance by itself?

My target audience is graphics designers and/or web developers. They would have a concept of a grid system.

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  • How shall we comment on whether your target audience will react to splitten and mergen as German verbs, if we know next to nothing about your target audience?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 29, 2014 at 18:42
  • Thank you for your edits and question. I'm new to this German Stack Exchange, so I appreciate what you have to say. I've updated the post to say what my target audience is.
    – tjklemz
    Mar 29, 2014 at 18:57

5 Answers 5

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In your English phrase split and merge could be several things grammatically, which may be distinguishable from the context:

  1. If somebody is using your software right now and you are instructing them: The imperative of the verbs split and merge.

  2. If you are demonstrating how to use your software (by performing the actions yourself): A “regular” form or the infinitive of the verbs split and merge with the subject or the to having been dropped for brevity, e.g.:

    (You) split. (You) split. (You) merge. (You are) done.

    (To) split. (To) split. (To) merge. Done.

  3. Either of the above, but if you referred to split and merge rather as substantives than verbs: The substantives (the) split and (the) merge.

There are several alternatives to translate those into German and you need to decide what fits your context best:

  1. The imperative. This makes sense if you are directly instructing somebody.

    Splitte. Splitte. Merge. Fertig.

    (Note that the e in merge is not silent anymore.)

  2. Split and Merge as subjects. This makes sense, if you mainly used them as subjects before.

    Split. Split. Merge. Done

  3. The infinitive. This is a common way to describe procedures, e.g. waschen, schneiden, legen describes a certain service by barbers (wash, cut and set). This is frequently used in advertisement, e.g., “anschnallen, losfahren, glücklich sein“ (buckle up, hit the road, be happy).

    Splitten. Splitten. Mergen. Fertig

  4. The inflective (or Erikativ): This roughly is the German equivalent of the chatspeak constructions like “*poke*”. This is an option if you are demonstrating your software. I cannot think of a context for your sentence, however, where I would prefer this over the infinitive.

    Split. Split. Merge. Done

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Just to give my two cents. Me, as a German, I would translate it as

Teile, teile, füge zusammen, fertig!"

I guess that German people who have no idea about the English language will understand that better.

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  • Oder: »Teilen, teilen, aneinanderfügen, fertig!«. Wobei »aneinanderfügen« auch durch »zusammenfügen« oder »zusammenstecken« ersetzt sein kann falls »stecken« in diesem Zusammenhang überhaupt sinnvoll ist. Mar 30, 2014 at 10:53
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    I'm pretty sure that many native speakers of German will have no clue what's going on without watching the process, and in case they do, they won't be impressed by the transalation. At the very least use the infinitive forms (teilen, teilen, zusammenfügen, fertig).
    – collapsar
    Mar 30, 2014 at 15:07
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I'm in IT myself, and it would carry over well for me. Your web designers should understand "split" and "merge"; I'm not sure if your graphics designers will, but you know your audience better than I do.

The proposed alternatives "Splitten", "splitte", "teile" etc. sound really awkward to me, because I'm used to the English technical terms for that kind of action. This may be different for a different audience, but I think the designers will tend to go along with Denglisch quite well. :-)

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In your application, the translations

Teilen/Trennen, teilen/trennen, verbinden, fertig.

will feel very natural to most German users. Note that most users of spreadsheet software and word processors will be accustomed to the wording teilen, verbinden wrt to manipulating the structure of tables.

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The thing is due to the fact that most programming languages are English in their function names and pseudo code many German IT folks are probably more familiar with the English terminology than the German. Like people speak of strings and only rarely of "Zeichenketten" and of stacks rather than "Halden/Ablagestapel" and stuff like that.

So if the functions are called split and merge there's no real use of calling them "teilen" and "zusammenfügen" when in application you won't find "teilen" and "zusammenfügen" but split and merge.

So if you're aiming for short "this, that, done" your "Split. Split. Merge. Fertig" most likely works just fine. From the alternatives probably "Splitten. Splitten. Mergen. Fertig" is probably the best as it takes the familiar terminology and uses the German infinite form, which is something that happens a lot like how words like "downloaden" or "googeln" are used in German. So essentially German grammar is applied to an English word.

The imperative form of "splitte, splitte, merge, fertig" sounds rather awkward as the imperative wasn't really the form used in the English sentence either, even if it could be read as that, right?

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