How to Learn Chinese Programming Vocabulary – CodingOverload

by learn a language journalist

Today we are going to be talking about a very different topic. If you’ve been reading CodingOverload for some time, then you may know that I live in Taiwan. I have been studying Chinese for quite a few years, not as seriously as I should maybe, but I do study it. I don’t consider my Chinese to be very advanced, but it is conversational. What we are going to be talking about today is how to learn Chinese programming vocabulary. A very long time ago I wrote a post called Learn Proper Chinese Translations for Tech / Software Terms. This post is a bit different as I will be focusing not on the government-approved translations. I will be focusing instead on the average Chinese speaker’s translations. We will be doing all of this by using Wikipedia.

Now, I feel like before I write this I need to say that my Chinese is not fluent. I am sure there will be mistakes here, and I am sure I will explain things poorly. I am simply sharing my techniques for learning Chinese. If you see any issues or have any feedback, please let me know in a comment below.

Introduction to how to learn Chinese programming vocabulary

So, let’s say we want to learn about the Python programming language. What I am going to do first is find the English Python Wikipedia page which you can find here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Python_(programming_language). Then you are going to find the sentence which has the Chinese you want to learn. I’ve decided to learn about how to say “Object-Oriented Programming” in Chinese, you can find an example of this in the 2nd paragraph. I have included a photo below in case you have trouble finding it.

Wikipedia Python Object Oriented Programming Paragraph
Python Object-Oriented Programming Paragraph

Then we are going to click the object-oriented programming link. That will take us to this page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object-oriented_programming. From this page, we can learn the proper, modern term for “object-oriented programming” in Chinese. This will help us find the exact translation for the term. Now if we look at the Wikipedia page for object-oriented programming then near the bottom left-hand side we will see the option for changing the language. I have also attached a photo of that area below.

how to change Wikipedia languages to learn Chinese
Chinese Language Option on Wikipedia

After this, you should see the Chinese version of the page which I’ve included below. Sometimes the page may be in traditional Chinese, sometimes it might be in simplified Chinese. You should be able to figure it out quite easily, also by using Google Translate you can very easily switch simplified to traditional. Now, let’s talk about how we can figure out what the Chinese translation is for the word we are wanting to learn.

The first sentence we see on the page is this 物件導向程式設計(英語:Object-oriented programming,縮寫:OOP)是種具有物件概念的程式設計典範,同時也是一種程式開發的抽象方針。它可能包含資料、屬性、程式碼與方法。物件則指的是類別(class)的實例。 Now, the bolded word is the word we are looking for. You can also figure this out by the fact that in parenthesis is the word 英文 which means English. Then, it lists the English translation for the term. From here, simply copy the word into your favorite flashcard editor, or whatever else you use to memorize words and you’re done!

The last thing I will mention before we wrap this Article up is that on the very far right-hand side. You will see a list of the common Chinese translations in multiple areas. I have attached a photo of this below, as it might be useful if you are needing to know the Chinese word for a specific vocabulary word.

Wikipedia's Multiple Chinese Translations
Wikipedia’s Various Chinese Translations for Specific Terms

I hope you enjoyed this post about how to learn Chinese programming vocabulary. It is definitely different than what I usually write about. It’s quite an interesting way to learn programming & computer science terminology in Chinese. Of course, you can learn any words with this technique, I just find that it’s very hard to learn the way actual programmers in Taiwan talk. So, I came up with this idea to help alleviate this problem. This method works so well because Wikipedia is written by normal people, which means it is written in a way that reflects how the average developer will talk as well. At least, this is my theory and if I read the English page it appears to be supported. As the English page for object-oriented programming, while very technical, is written in a natural way that reflects how people actually talk.

Now, this is of course just a way to learn specific vocabulary, it wouldn’t be too helpful when trying to learn complex sentences. With a little patience though, you’d be surprised by how much you can learn from just Wikipedia!

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