I just noticed that Windows is using "…をインストールしています" while installing something. The use of "〜います" by a computer strikes me as slightly weird, like too literal a translation leading to overdone anthropomorphism. I often see "インストール中" or something similar instead and personally prefer it.

I'd expect this use to be correct, but is it elegant, natural?

  • 1
    Great question. +1. I feel インストール中 would be the best option, but at the least, インストールされています sounds better to me than インストールしています。However, I have no where near the experience to answer this properly. – phirru Jul 23 '11 at 11:44
  • I remember being told years ago that the company that did the Japanese localization of Windows did an appalling job. Maybe that's still the case and this is an example. Here in Romania everybody tells me the Romanian version of Windows is so alien that everybody uses the English version. – hippietrail Jul 23 '11 at 12:15
  • Oh yes, Microsoft traditionally does a terrible job of translating their software. "Gedownloaded" in German, "シャットダウン" in Japanese… I resolved to use computers exclusively in English partly because of them. So is that the answer already? It's a bad translation? :) – deceze Jul 23 '11 at 13:33
  • I have complaints to some of the Japanese translation in software by Microsoft, such as “プロパティ” and “マイ コンピュータ,” but as I wrote in my answer, インストールしています sounds perfectly natural to me. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 25 '11 at 10:05

I cannot speak for other people, but personally I find nothing wrong with either インストールしています or インストール中. In both cases, the unstated subject is the installer or the computer.

On the other hand, インストールされています, mentioned in a comment, sounds definitely unnatural and “translationese” to me if it is used when a program is being installed. I guess that the reason is that されている usually means a state instead of an ongoing action in the passive form. For example, compare the following two sentences:

  • Office をインストールしています。
  • Office がインストールされています。

The former means that Office is currently being installed, while the latter will almost surely mean that Office exists on the system (as a result of installation in the past) just like the English sentence “Office is installed.”

In general, a computer or a program can naturally be a subject of actions in Japanese. For example, a hypothetical email client can show メールを送信しました after sending email messages. In English, this will probably be stated in the passive form such as “Messages (have been) sent.” If you feel that the passive form is more natural, that preference probably comes from the use of the passive form in your native language. In Japanese, メールが送信されました is ok, but the use of the passive form makes it sound slightly complicated for no good reason. メールを送信しました is just fine.

  • What irks me about "〜しています" is that is sounds too "personal", like "I'm installing Office". In English it's just "Installing Office", which seems a little more neutral. I find "インストール中" better since it has the same more neutral feeling. Or is that just me and I'm misinterpreting the nuance of 〜います here? :) – deceze Jul 23 '11 at 13:55
  • @deceze: I understand that the English sentence “I’m installing Office” would sound too personal, but インストールしています in Japanese does not sound personal to me. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 23 '11 at 13:58
  • @deceze Both in Japanese and in English, the subject is omitted, and there is not difference. It is strange that you are comparing Japanese with the subject with English without the subject. – user458 Jul 23 '11 at 14:10
  • Oh really? I'm sure I had seen されています used somewhere. Does this mean, in this context that passive + います is not being used to indicate an on-going action, but is instead indicating a STATE? I was going on the assumption that "インストールしています" == "something is installing" vs "インストールされています" == "something is being installed". I take it my understanding of the passive form is incorrect? – phirru Jul 23 '11 at 14:22
  • @phirru Your understanding of the passive is correct. I was refering to インストールしています vs. Installing. They are the same. I wonder why you feel one unnatural and the other natural. – user458 Jul 23 '11 at 14:43

I'm pretty sure I've also seen certain programs use インストールを行っています as well.

  • Yes, I guess that that is another usual expression. I personally prefer インストールしています or インストール中 for simplicity, though. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 26 '11 at 11:53

Both インストールしていますand インストール中 are in common use. But, don't look to PC software for fine examples of the translator's art. There are a zillion strings in an OS like Windows, and they farm the translation out to companies who can do dozens of languages for the lowest price. :/

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