How to find Japanese IT vocabulary
Without the right terminology, it is hard to get any work done. That is true in any profession, particularly for specialized fields like IT.
To not get your wires crossed when communicating with Japanese programmers, here are a few reliable resources to express yourself as precise in Japanese as you do in English.
English terms are not enough
One would like to assume that most programmers know English. That’s not quite true for Japan, so anyone who wants to work in Japan or with Japanese coworkers needs to get used to the Japanese terminology.
This creates two problems:
- 1. Finding the right Japanese terminology.
- 2. Managing the jungle of Japanese expressions.
Even if you search, there are not a lot of resources covering specific Japanese terminology. The best and most extensive (and free) site I found for IT vocabulary is the Japanese site IT用語. Access the almost 10.000 entries by using the search function in the header to quickly get to the word you are looking for. The site provides the Japanese term, synonyms, related terms, a detailed explanation of the term in Japanese, and the equivalent in English.
IT用語 is widely used by employees in Japan, so it is completely in Japanese, but on the plus side, there is no need to double check the info you find there. If a coworker still doesn’t understand, just send him a link to the explanation.
For an introduction to basic vocabulary used during projects at the office, textbooks like「しごとの日本語 IT業務編」are a good place to start.
You can also try your luck with Japanese books and websites teaching English IT vocabulary to Japanese professionals.
2. Types of Japanese IT words
In Japan, you will encounter three types of terminology. This can make it difficult to guess a word you never heard, but as a rule of thumb: if you are unsure try English.
When English words are used in Japanese they are usually written and pronounced using katakana. Check out some general business katakana words here. Easy to remember, just make sure you add enough vowels to be understood.
■ フロントエンドエンジニア – front-end engineer
Some words Japanese people believe to be English so bad, nobody knows that they are not. Get ready for false friends, appropriated with different meanings, or all new word creations.
■ SNS (ソーシャルメディアネットワーク) - social media
The terms that fall in the above category, even in the worst case at least resemble English, and are easy to read and pick up. It gets tricky when you come across those originally Japanese terms, written in Kanji, often using a lot of obscure signs. After all, who ever learned the Kanji for “elliptical” in Japanese class?
■ 拡張子 (かくちょうし) – file extension
This should help you get started. If you are in Japan you can also check out your local bookstore. I will post more on common terminology at a later point. If you know any other good resources or have questions regarding a certain word, share in the comments.
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