Latin terms and software terminology

imageUntil the 18th century Latin used to be the lingua franca of scholars and scientists. Nowadays the role belongs to English, the recognized global language of business, science and technology.

Predictably, quite a few English IT terms have been taken into other languages as loanwords (e.g. software, blog, cookie, OK, etc.) and are instantly recognizable in different countries across the world. 

Maybe slightly more surprising is the number of Latin terms that are still used in English, with their original spelling, and which have acquired a specific meaning in IT terminology.

A few examples with definitions from the Microsoft terminology database:

Term Latin meaning Current meaning in Microsoft software
agenda “things to be done” In BizTalk Server, an ordered list of rule actions to be executed by the Rule Engine.
album “white”, describing an empty tablet A collection of compositions or memorabilia of a specific type or for a particular purpose, such as audio recordings, photographs, or documents.
area “open space” Region of the user interface dedicated to a particular purpose, such as “instant message area.”
audio from “to hear” Relating to frequencies within the range of perception by the human ear — from about 15 to 20,000 hertz (cycles per second).
data “something given” A representation of facts, concepts or instructions in a formalized manner, suitable for communication, interpretation or processing.
formula “small shape/model” A sequence of values, cell references, names, functions, or operators in a cell that together produce a new value.
media “middle” Any fixed or removable objects that store computer data. Examples include hard disks, floppy disks, tapes, and compact discs.
persona “mask” A fictional reality, collecting together real data describing the important characteristics of a particular user group in a fictional character. A persona describes the typical skills, abilities, needs, desires, working habits, tasks ,and backgrounds of a particular set of users.
quorum “of whom”, in a formula used to appoint a commission For a failover cluster, the number of elements that must be online for a given cluster to continue running. The elements relevant in this context are nodes or, in some cases, a witness disk or witness file share.
quota from quota pars, “how large a part” A per-process limit on the use of system resources. For each process, the system sets limits on certain system resources that the process’s threads can use, for example, the memory manager.
replica “reply” In Active Directory replication, one instance of a logical Active Directory partition that is synchronized by means of replication between domain controllers that hold copies of the same directory partition. Replica can also refer to an instance of an object or attribute in a distributed directory.
status “posture” The condition at a particular time of any of numerous elements of computing–a device, a communications channel, a network station, a program, a bit, or other element–used to report on or to control computer operations.
virus “poisonous liquid”

Code written with the express intention of replicating itself. A virus attempts to spread from computer to computer by attaching itself to a host program.

Licia Corbolante, Italian Terminologist

Comments (1)

  1. Anonymous says:

    上星期因為工作忙碌,暫停部落格的文章。正好接到消息說我們的英文版部落格搬家到了 新的地方 。歡迎舊雨新知來參觀。新的英文版部落格不但會由我們英文的語文專員提供內容,各國的語文專員也會寫一些有趣的知識放在上面供讀者參考。像是義大利同事