I need to translate a software interface into German.

What is the most concise and still effective translation for "ON/OFF"? The action (verb) to switch on/off is "notify"

closed as off-topic by Em1, guidot, Beta, Hubert Schölnast, Robert Mar 22 '17 at 22:49

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  • 2
    I hope you don't translate the interface itself but only the manual and things visible to clueless end users. Translated interfaces between software components are frustrating. Imagine: German MS-Excel uses German function names by default. It's horrible. – Janka Mar 22 '17 at 15:25
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    If you don't know how to translate on/off, you may want to stay away from translating to German... – Robert Mar 22 '17 at 22:50
  • Robert is absolutely right: Do not try to translate ANYTHING that is supposed to be read by users (customers) into any language, if you have to ask what so simple words like »on« and »off« are in that language. Keep your hands off translations if you don't speak the taget-language at minimum at level C1! For definition of level "C1" read: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Hubert Schölnast Mar 23 '17 at 15:41
  • The quality target for a translation should be "average German understands the translated interface better than the original interface". That's a high target. If you're not 100% sure you can achieve that, you might not bother translating. – gnasher729 Mar 26 '17 at 13:28
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    @HubertSchölnast: Even if your German is perfect, you can't just translate "On/Off" because the correct translation will depend on the exact situation. Plus it is conceivable that there is little space in the user interface, so you need something really short. – gnasher729 Mar 26 '17 at 13:30

Amongst the many possible translations for on / off we'd use


in case a switch in a technical or software context was meant.

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    So, why didn't you suggest "an" instead of "ein"? – Em1 Mar 22 '17 at 15:15
  • @Em1 ein appears to be used more often in this context. – Takkat Mar 22 '17 at 15:31
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    Any evidence for this? Because I don't think so. – Em1 Mar 22 '17 at 16:02
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    @Em1 e.g. this Google ngram that is also supported by the DWDS word frequency charts for einschalten vs. anschalten. Regionally an- may be more frequently used but in general ein- is used approx. 10 times more often. – Takkat Mar 22 '17 at 19:09
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    I don't think this is any evidence. We're not talking about "einschalten" vs "anschalten" (and even then, we would have to look at context and not only comparing the number of words), but about the short "on/off" switch that appears on an user interface in software. Many of the possible contexts of "ein- bzw. anschalten" are just dismissed by this fact and we're limit to just a few possible meanings that are not even covered by the words in common books (like (de)activating a listener/observer, for instance; related to computers only). And that already makes a huge difference. – Em1 Mar 23 '17 at 7:38

For user options also possible:

  • aktiv / inaktiv [Straßenbeleuchtung, Solarstromeinspeisung]

  • aktiviert / deaktiviert [Alarmanlage]

  • aktivieren / deaktivieren

Text on / off must not necessarily refer to a toggle button. For a mere user information [coming from a sensor] I would prefer aktiv / inaktiv to ein / aus.

Sample aktiv / inaktiv

sample aktiv/inaktiv

Sample aktiviert / deaktiviert

2 apps are running. App 1 checks periodically if app 2 is still alive. If app 2 has crashed app 1 can restart it. So the settings of app 2 may contain:

sample aktiviert/deaktiviert

Sample aktivieren / deaktivieren (house security)

sample aktivieren/deaktivieren

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