Computers, software and programming: Japanese vocabulary that you need to know

In modern society, computers play a huge role in many jobs and industries. Even in industries that seemingly have no connection to computers, people still use them to take advantage of all their handy tools and features. Naturally, this means that being able to understand and use Japanese computer-related terms is very important for anyone aiming to work in Japan, regardless of your job.

One industry that works particularly closely with computers is the programming industry. Programmers play an important role in many different types of companies, and skilled programmers are highly sought after worldwide. As such, being a skilled programmer is a great way to find work in Japan. However, you need to know at least the basics of Japanese programming vocabulary to get yourself hired.

That’s where this article comes in. In this article, I’ll be teaching you vocabulary about computers, software, and more specialized programming terms. There will also be plenty of example sentences provided, to ensure that the vocabulary sinks in. Let’s get into it!

Basic Japanese computer vocabulary

To start with, let’s learn some vocabulary relating to a computer’s physical parts. Before you turn on a computer, you’ll come across a number of different pieces of hardware. Here’s a list:

コンピュータ ― Konpyuuta ― Computer

パソコン ― Pasokon ― PC

画面 ― Gamen ― Screen

キーボード ― Kiiboodo ― Keyboard

マウス ― Mausu ― Computer mouse

ワイヤ ― Waiya ― Wires

You might notice that many of these words are katakana and based off of English words. As you’ll see in this article, this is very common when it comes to computing related vocabulary. This makes learning these words an easier task.

You might also notice that there are separate words for PC and computer. Both can be used interchangeably in most situations, but PC technically refers to one’s private computer, whilst computer is more commonly used in the workplace. Here’s some example sentences:

このコンピュータの画面は大きいですね。(Kono konpyuuta no gamen wa ookii desu ne.)

This computer’s screen is large, isn’t it?

コンピュータを使いたいならキーボードとマウスは必要です。(Konpyuuta o tsukaitai nara kiiboodo to mausu wa hitsuyou desu.)

If you want to use a computer, you need a keyboard and a mouse.

Next up are the words for turning a computer on and off. Whilst you won’t use these words often, they are commonly used when troubleshooting problems with computers, so you need to know them.

起動 ― Kidou ― Turn on

再起動 ― Saikidou ― Restart

シャットダウン ― Shattodaun ― Shutdown

パソコンを起動する。

Turn on my PC.

仕事を終えて、コンピュータをシャットダウンしました。(Shigoto o oete, konpyuuta o shattodaun shimashita.)

I finished my work, then shutdown my computer.

Lastly, let’s learn some general computing terms. These are common enough that any adult in Japan should be able to read and understand them, especially those who work with computers.

インタネット ― Intanetto ― Internet

ファイル ― Fairu ― File

ソフトウェア―・ソフト ― SofutoweaaSofuto ― Software

記憶 ― Kioku ― Computer storage/memory

ダウンロード ― Daunroodo ― Download

インタネットでファイルをダウンロードしました。(Intanetto de fairu o daunroodo shimashita.)

I downloaded a file on the internet.

ソフトをダウンロードしようとしたが、記憶が足りなかった。(Sofuto o daunroodo shiyou to shita ga, kioku ga tarinakatta.)

I tried to download some software, but I didn’t have enough memory for it.

One thing to note here is that software can be referred to with two different terms. They mean the same thing; one is just an abbreviation of the other. People generally use the abbreviation in casual conversations, and the longer word in more work-based environments.

Japanese software related vocabulary

Next up, let’s discuss the vocabulary that you’ll commonly encounter when using various different types of software. Most people who use computers regularly should recognize the majority of these terms. First, let’s look at some general ones:

修正 ― Shuusei ― Edit

形式 ― Keishiki ― Format

印刷 ― Insatsu ― Print

セーブ ― Seebu ― Save

クラッシュ ― Kurasshu ― Crash

設定 ― Settei ― Settings

Some of these words feature kanji, which can make them difficult to remember. However, since these words are very common in computing, you’ll likely encounter them regularly enough that you’ll learn them naturally. Here are some example sentences:

この書類を修正して、セーブして、そして印刷してください。(Kono shorui o shuusei shite, seebu shite, soshite insatsu shite kudasai.)

Please edit this file, save it, then print it out.

設定を変更中にクラッシュしました。(Settei o henkouchuu ni kurasshu shimashita.)

It crashed whilst I was changing the settings.

Next, let’s take a quick look at a few words that you might come across when downloading new software:

ベータ版 ― Beetaban ― Beta version

体験版 ― Taikenban ― Trial version

フルバージョン ― Furu baajon ― Full version

利用者 ― Riyousha ― User

これは体験版ですか?それとも、フルバージョン?(Kore wa taikenban desu ka? Soretomo, furu baajon?)

Is this the trial version? Or the full version?

The first three words all refer to the version of software that you are downloading, informing you whether the software is still in development, and whether you are downloading the complete software or not. The final term, user, commonly appears when accepting terms and conditions to use different pieces of software.

Japanese programming vocabulary

Now we’re onto the complex stuff. Programming vocabulary in Japanese is mostly split between katakana and kanji words. That means that around half the words are going to be very easy to pick up, whilst the other half might take you a while to remember. First let’s run through the easy katakana terms.

プログラミング ― Puroguramingu Programming

コード ― Koodo Code

コーディング ― Koodingu ― Coding

コンピュータ言語 ― Konpyuuta gengo Programming language

プロジェクト ― Purojekuto Project

データベース― ― Deetabeesuu Database

バグ ― Bagu Bug

デバッグ ― Debaggu Debug

テスト ― Tesuto ― Test

エラー ― Eraa ― Error

コンパイル ― Konpairu ― Compile

As you can see, these words are all pretty straightforward for anyone who already knows the English equivalents. They’re all nouns, though some can be followed by the verb ‘する’ (Suru – To do) to turn them into a verb, just as how you can use them as verbs in English. Here are some examples:

どっちコンピュータ言語でコーディングしたい? (Docchi konpyuuta gengo de koodingu shitai?)

What programming language do you prefer to code in?

どこかでエラーが発生しています。デバッグしてみないと。(Dokoka de era ga hassei shiteimasu. Debaggu shiteminai to.)

There’s an error somewhere. I’ll have to debug it.

Next, let’s look at some programming terms that are written in kanji.

開発 ― Kaihatsu ― Development

開発者 ― Kaihatsusha ― Developer

実行 ― Jikkou ― Execute. Run (Code)

機能 ― Kinou ― Function

構造 ― Kouzou ― Structure

企画 ― Kikaku ― Project, Plan

引数 ― Hikisuu ― Parameter

条件 ― Jouken ― Condition

Whilst there are a lot of different kanji in these words, many people studying Japanese will recognize a lot of them. That’s because most of the kanji used here are actually used in a lot of simple words too, so they’re not quite as difficult as they might seem at first. Let’s take a look at some examples:

このコードを実行してみましょう。(Kono koodo o jikkou shitemimashou.)

Let’s run this code.

この企画の構造はちょっと… (Kono kikaku no kouzou wa chotto…)

This project’s structure isn’t great…

あの引数は省略できない。(Ano hikisuu wa shouryaku dekinai.)

That parameter can’t be omitted.

開発者の仕事に終わりがない。(Kaihatsusha no shigoto ni owari ga nai.)

A developer’s work is never done.

This project is finished

So, did you learn some new vocabulary? Perhaps you’re interested in taking a look at some programming jobs in Japan now? If you’ve got the skills, and the portfolio to prove it, then you have every chance of landing a programming job in Japan. Best of luck with the job hunting!