I work in IT in Tokyo, so most of what I do doesn't require interaction with our Japanese customers, but every so often we get that one phone call where someone wants something explained, and I can always make it through, but never at the level that I want to. The problem usually comes in with regards to computer terminology. For example, when I'm on the spot and don't have any time to look things up, if I want to say, "if you hover over the icon, a tooltip will pop up," I just toss out something simple like「アイコンの上にマウスを動かして、クリックせずに1~2秒程待ってください。そうしますと、ツールチップが表示されます。」. And it works and gets the point across as expected. But I'm consistently wanting to improve upon sentences like that, to something more natural in Japanese --- in this particular example, what I want to know is, what is the most common and most natural way to say "hover the mouse over..."? Problem is I don't have time to do language research at work, and by the time I get home my brain is either fried or I just forget.

I'm aware of stuff like http://e-words.jp/ for pure dictionary lookups, but really what I'm looking for is like a book that I can read during my train commute, written for native English speakers learning Japanese, and focusing exclusively on technology/Windows/programming terminology.


  • The best way maybe to look at how the native softwares are using the language.
    – fefe
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 3:28
  • 1
    Hmmmm, that sounds to me a very specific book you're looking for, I doubt you'll find one that covers your needs 100%...I wonder if you could get the Japanese version of IT for Dummies? (or other title for learning very basic computer stuff) It wouldn't be in English but it would probably be easy to figure out ^.^ Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 4:36

2 Answers 2


I work at a Japanese software company, and when I started there, I experienced much of the same feeling that you did--I knew all of these technical terms in English, and I thought that I spoke Japanese fluently, but I didn't know any of these terms in Japanese, so I felt very much at a loss when communicating about technical topics.

A lot of it I've just picked up as I've gotten more experienced, so I can't really recommend any good books for non-native speakers; I read lots of resources written in Japanese for Japanese people, but very few if any helpful resources written in English. I think you may have to stick to native language resources for the majority of your learning. (Hopefully you've reached the point in your Japanese where this isn't a problem for you to do.) Also, you should know that while technical people in Japanese have a firm grasp of this sort of vocabulary, your average, non-technical speaker of Japanese might be a lot more comfortable with your roundabout rephrasings than they would be with the more technical and efficient ways of stating things.

Don't know if it helps, but a while back I made a short vocabulary list for a friend of mine who was studying for a Japanese-speaking programming job. It's not very complete, but if you'd like some vocabulary to study, here it is. The words are pretty programming-specific.

引数{ひきすう}: argument (i.e., to a function)
返り値{かえりち}: return value
関数{かんすう}: function
構造体{こうぞうたい}: data structure
保存{ほぞん}する: to save, to store
割り込み{わりこみ}: interrupt
状態{じょうたい}: status
画像{がぞう}: image
復元{ふくげん}する: to restore
アルゴリズム: algorithm
処理{しょり}: processing (very common word)
終了{しゅうりょう}する: to end; to be finalized
書き換える{かきかえる}: to overwrite
呼び出す{よびだす}: to call (as in, calling a function)
実装{じっそう}する: to implement
自動的{じどうてき}: automatically
プログラムを組む{くむ}: to write a program
明示的{めいじてき}に: explicitly
黙示的{もくしてき}に: implicitly
ポインタ: pointer
テーブル: table
変換{へんかん}する: to convert
割り込み{わりこみ}禁止{きんし}: interrupts prohibited
対応{たいおう}する: to support (as in "this language supports dynamic memory allocation") 
概要{がいよう}: overview
値{あたい}: value
固定{こてい}: static, fixed
動的{どうてき}: dynamic
同期{どうき}関数{かんすう}: synchronous function
非同期{ひどうき}関数{かんすう}: asynchronous function
調節{ちょうせつ}する: to adjust
計算{けいさん}結果{けっか}: result of calculation 
割り当て{わりあて}: allocation
設定{せってい}: settings
設定{せってい}する: to set, to configure
配列{はいれつ}: array
登録{とうろく}する: to register

For reading, I recommend reading programming books directed towards Japanese people, or if those are too tough, just introductory books and articles for Japanese people. There are so many older people in Japan who are still just now getting into computers that there should be no end of introductory books at your local library or Book-Off.

  • I've heard 戻り値 for "return value". Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 19:41

This might not be exactly what you're looking for, but I'll post it for what it's worth. I picked this one up at a second hand book store a couple of years ago:

Encyclopedic Dictionary of Computer Science: http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E5%B2%A9%E6%B3%A2%E6%83%85%E5%A0%B1%E7%A7%91%E5%AD%A6%E8%BE%9E%E5%85%B8-%E9%95%B7%E5%B0%BE-%E7%9C%9F/dp/4000800744

It has both English-Japanese and Japanese-English and has entries (including small articles in Japanese) for a lot of stuff from programming terminology to theoretical computer science stuff. I looked up 'hover' and 'tooltip' and neither was there, though, so it might be a bit more scientifically oriented. (For example, it lists several different kinds of garbage collection.)

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