Sunday, October 31, 2010

Translation of Keyboard Labels into Chinese (or, On Translating Computer Terminology)

Google images and every image search fail.
I ran into this issue trying to teach my grandma to use the computer / trying to explain the difference between all the arrows on the keyboard (take a look--there's the arrow keys, then the enter key, and the backspace key, then there's the random ones on the number keys...)

All I can say is, why?? Why does everyone like taking pictures of the right-side of the keyboard, or low-rez pictures, or pictures with artful blur applied??

And why does google image's algorithms fail in this case? What would be the right search terms? If I try searching for "chinese keyboard labels" I get pictures of keyboards with bopomofo or something crazy stickered all over them, and the "ctrl" etc. keys aren't translated. Wikipedia informs me that tech-savvy people in China just say "Scroll建" (scroll key).* Technical glossaries are out-of-date and definitely don't include translations for "caps lock". **

* (see table at bottom of控制键). 
** (If you know a bit of Chinese, see the right side top search bar at If you don't, for the first drop-down option, pick "英汉" if you want to translate from English to Chinese, then type in your term in the text entry field below it. The "中/英文名 " field tells you the translation).

In China this summer I definitely had issues with technical  / computer terminology in Chinese. My relative asked me if I left my "U 盘" at her house. I was pretty sure I didn't have any dishes that were U-shaped or anything crazy like that. It took a few minutes for me to figure out that that's what USB drives / flash drives are called in China, and I only figured it out by analogy with hard disk, aka "硬盘". Where can I learn this on the Internet?? 

Internet, I am disappointed in you.

Anyway, here's my best guesses, defaulting to more complete translations (大写锁定 instead of caps 锁定). Some are blank still. I should stop punting. I think someone on hall has a Chinese keyboard, so I'll update when I get around to it.

Esc 退出

Tab 制表
Caps Lock 大写锁定 大小写锁定键

Ctrl 控制
Windows Key n/a
Alt 换档
Backspace 回格
Enter 回车
Shift 上档
Task Key

Insert (Ins) 插入
Delete (Del) 删除
Home 起始
End 结束
Page Up (PgUp) 上页
Page Down (PgDn) 下页
Num Lock 数码锁定
Print Screen (Prnt Scrn) 印屏幕
System Request (SysRq) n/a
Scroll Lock 卷动锁定

Pause 暂停
Break n/a
Arrow keys方向键 (上,下,左,友)

I may have failed to mention this, but is a great source for technical term translation. 
e.g. For Chinese: to

(see for a look at how easy it is to volunteer to help translate terms. Well, easy in terms of UI and not personal knowledge of Chinese).

[Edit: 11/7/10]
Oh hey, look, even more useful! Microsoft Language Portal's Terminology Search: If only Launchpad's Rosetta (their translation software that runs on the aforementioned launchpad sites) allowed searching like this as well...

[Edit: 11/8/10] Of course, on further research, all of the links here fail the "U盘 = USB" test. Meh.

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