Terms under the spotlight
This page is a compilation of the "terms of the month" featured in the Microsoft Language Portal . It includes the following terms:
The term breadcrumb navigation was coined in reference to the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, by analogy to the trail of breadcrumbs that the children left in the forest in order to find their way back home.
In the computer world, it denotes a form of navigation that shows the path you took to the Web page you are on. From a source language perspective, this term is so widespread in industry that it would be hard to avoid it entirely. From a target language perspective, many translators faced difficulties when they tried to localize it because of its metaphoric nature and literary origin. They had to decide between a literal translation (which may not be appropriate or meaningful), an alternative metaphor (which could have risks of its own), and a descriptive equivalent (which might appear as bland).
The following are examples of the above: Brotkrümelnavigation (German literal translation), Ariadnepfadnavigation (different German metaphor, based on Ariadne’s thread in the myth of the Labyrinth of the Minotaur), and exploration à l'aide de la barre de navigation (French descriptive translation).
As a technical term, cookie can be defined as a small data file that is stored on a user's local computer and contains information about the user that is pertinent to a Web site, such as user preferences. Cookies are used to identify users, instruct the server to send a customized version of the requested Web page, submit account information for the user, and so on.
Before its use in the HTTP world, the term cookie was used in earlier systems to describe a small data packet sent between communicating programs. It is said that because these data packets contained hidden information inside, they were called cookies after the fortune cookies routinely served in Chinese-American restaurants as a dessert treat.
Given the origins of the term, one might think that the Chinese language would surely have a perfect equivalent for cookie. In fact, for Microsoft products in Chinese, the English term is used. This is actually not surprising when one learns that the fortune cookie was not originally from China. Indeed, many languages use the English term or its transcription. Block cookie is ?? Cookie in Simplified Chinese, Spärra cookie in Swedish, and Blloko kukin in Albanian. Some languages, though, have selected a term based on the meaning of cookie. In Norwegian, cookie is informasjonskapsel (information capsule).
Sometimes a tap on the shoulder or a gentle poke in the arm is the best way to get someone’s attention. Transferring this type of physical communication to computer applications may result in new hardware and software behaviors, in addition to new terms. In Windows Live Messenger, for example, you can get the attention of IM friends by sending them a nudge. On the receiving end, your friend’s conversation window jitters, or if your friend is on a mobile phone, the phone vibrates. In both cases, there is an accompanying sound.
Finding an appropriate equivalent for the concept of a nudge for localized products involves more than a quick translation of the term. For example, for the German translation, this meant concentrating on the characteristics of the software feature and not on the dictionary meaning of the word. The attention-getting jitter and sound aspects, combined with the casual register of Windows Live, led to the German equivalent Rrring! Although for German, the term for this feature emphasizes the sound aspect and does not try to replicate the English sense of a physical little push, other languages arrived at different solutions based on their local markets. The terms chosen for different languages range from using an equivalent of the term push to using the English term itself, including a standard term for alert and the metaphor of an alarm clock to wake up the friend.
As you can see from the variety of equivalents, adapting an interface for local markets is not as straightforward as it seems.
The term Ribbon is used in Microsoft Office (and other Microsoft products) to denote a user interface that presents commands, tools and options in task-based groups rather than through traditional menus, toolbars, and task panes. Because of its initial capitalization and figurative meaning, its localization was not trivial.
In some target languages, it involved quite a bit of usability research and discussion. Localization decisions varied across languages and countries. While some languages picked a literal translation, e.g. Ruban and Cinta in French and Spanish, respectively, others chose a descriptive translation. For example, Italian and German chose terms that mention the Ribbon's function, i.e. Barra multifunzione and Multifunktionsleiste meaning multi-function bar, while Brazilian Portuguese opted for a description of the Ribbon's constituents: Faixa de Opções, meaning option band. Interestingly, Iberian Portuguese came up with a different translation from Brazilian Portuguese, Friso meaning frieze, an almost literal translation of Ribbon.
As can be seen, these translations can vary widely even across close languages, but they are all based on feature characteristics, local market preferences, usability studies, and other considerations.
For more information on the origin of the name, see Why is it called the Ribbon?
Tag clouds are one way to provide information about online content in a visual format. Tags or keywords associated with a site are presented in a cluster, or cloud, and the relative importance or frequency of each item is depicted by its size (or other formatting). Users can quickly identify key topics and link to related content. Although metaphor does not always lend itself to literal translation, the use of cloud to describe the sometimes irregular shape of a grouping of words is an accessible image and has been adopted by some languages, such as Russian. Borrowing of the English term is also common, particularly among technical users. And, it is not uncommon to find several synonyms in use, depending on the language, the term’s source, and the intended audience. The preferred equivalent for each market may evolve as usage matures, and terminologists will research and document these trends.
The term tap, used in the computer world as a noun or a verb, denotes at least two different meanings. Until recently, the verb tap has been commonly used with the following sense: "to briefly press a UI element with a typical touch-screen pen".
However, the capability to use your fingertips instead of a touch-screen pen creates a localization issue for quite a few languages because the current translation of tap in these languages implies the use of a pen.For example, depending on whether a pen or a fingertip is used to press a UI element, French will choose a different term to denote this action. This is a difficult challenge for localizers, as they have to take into consideration not only the action, but also the tool used to perform said action.
Microsoft terminologists are in discussion with product groups to come up with terminology that conveys the meaning while taking into account linguistic and cultural considerations.
The term wizard is used in the computer world to denote an interactive utility that guides the user through a particular task or process by asking a series of questions or presenting options. It was introduced in the early 90’s and was well accepted in the American market.
A good number of languages decided to stick to a literal translation, for example ??? in Korean. However, some markets could not easily relate to this metaphoric use of wizard and decided to translate it with a more informative equivalent, such as Assistant in French, while others picked a different metaphor, more aligned with their localization style, such as ?????? in Russian (meaning master).
Although the use of wizard is widespread in the computer industry, it is not rare to see synonyms used by some software companies, namely Assistant or even Druid.