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  • […] Tech talk, un intervento apparso due giorni fa in Macmillan Dictionary Blog, afferma che la maggioranza dei termini informatici che in inglese descrivono nuove funzionalità e oggetti destinati ad avere una grande diffusione non sono nuove parole ma nuovi significati attribuiti a parole esistenti. Sottolinea inoltre che le  parole comuni associabili ad oggetti fisici, al corpo umano e alle sue azioni e i suoi sensi sono quelle preferite per designare concetti altrimenti non familiari. […]

  • I am an Italian terminologist who has been working in the IT field for over 20 years. I agree that terminologization, “the process of metaphorical extension of a general-language notion to a more precise concept within a special language domain” is a very creative way of using existing lexical items to identify new concepts. However, metaphors that are very effective when used within a specialized field might not be equally successful when they migrate into general language, as shown by a recent survey that found that only 16% of Americans understand the tech meaning of cloud. Semantic neologism based on secondary meanings or on imperfect analogies can result in limited transparency, especially for non-native speakers. If indeterminacy is present in English, it might be further emphasised when terminology is transferred into another language by means of secondary term formation.

    Interestingly, the Microsoft Manual of Style advises software developers and technical writers against terminologization: “If you must create a new term, verify that the term that you select is not already in use to mean something else. Regardless of audience, avoid giving specific technical meaning to common English words. Even if new terms are well grounded in the everyday definition of a word, those reading your content may not be attuned to the subtleties of meaning that underlie such terms, and they may try to make sense of the material by using the common definition”. The Microsoft Manual of Style also suggests that anthropomorphism should be avoided because metaphors associated to the human body and its action are not always interpreted as intended by users from different cultures – for example, Italian speakers understand but tend to reject metaphors associated with living beings, their features or actions and prefer loanwords instead.

    [ terminologization definition from The Handbook of Terminology Management, Vol 2, edited by Sue Ellen Wright and Gerhard Budin]