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Working in the German IT industry as an English speaker, you slowly get the sense of which English words and phrases should be used in German and which should not, e.g.:

Use German Term (English term sounds too Denglish):

Hard drive - Festplatte

Keyboard - Tastatur

Use English Term (German term sounds too forced):

Laptop - Klapprechner

Drag and Drop - Ziehen und Loslassen

Borderline:

Namespace - Namensraum

Motherboard - Hauptplatine

Tabs - Reiter

Does anyone have an exhaustive list of these, including programming terms such as "for-next-loop" and "inheritance" etc?

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  • English-German Dictionary of Common Computing Terms contains a few words.
    – user508
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 4:25
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    It's hard to draw a specific line that should never be crossed. But please never use words like "Stapelspeicher", "Kellerspeicher" and don't translate "Heap" as "Haufen". It hurts. Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 7:47
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    You also have to take into account you user base. Generally, the more technical your users are, the less you translate, and vice versa.
    – fzwo
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 8:34

2 Answers 2

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It depends on your audience: In my experience IT guys tend to use English terms a lot, since a lot of the existing literature is in English anyway and nobody cared to invent/establish the "correct" translation. There are a few exceptions to that rule: When speaking, e.g. hard drives will often be referred to as "Platte(n)".

Some people (e.g. my university professor) insist on using German terms as much as possible, in this case I just go with their request. Same goes for other groups of people which may be unfamiliar with IT stuff, older or not speaking English very well. In this case terms like "Reiter" for tabs help, since e.g. my parents are (due to their age) familiar with "Hängeregistern" (the thing in the picture) and the "Reiter" on top of it.

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There is no definite list, since it depends on many factors, like your audience, the topic, the situation.

But especially with IT terms the recommendation is to use those in English. It's for example hard to use a German IDE, since all the common terms like compile, build, package, deploy are often not even recognizable in German. This recommendation is not only a matter of taste but has a very practical side. The other week I had a problem with my Oracle application server and it would print out the exception message in German! While this might be more understandable to me (assuming it was not translated by a machine), it's of no use putting it into Google in the search of the source of the error.

So, whenever technical terms are involved, there should be no translation in order to have a common and worldwide base. But besides them, when it comes to business discussions, especially if done among Germans only, there's no need to use all those "Bullshit-Words" managers like to...

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