Harrap's Computers & the Internet Dictionary, English/French, French/English.
Edinburgh, UK: Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. 1999.
ISBN 0-245-50387-0 (FRANCE)
ISBN 0-245-606653 (UK)
Reviewed by Françoise Herrmann

The Harrap's Computers & the Internet Dictionary French/English , English/French is part of a small paperback series of dictionaries called "La vie des @ffaires" [@Business Life]. All of the entries for these dictionaries were developed and expanded from the database used for the Harrap Dictionary of Business. This small (5000 entries) paperback was thus designed as a practical resource for all business people, students and translators included, in response to the tremendous amount of terminology now found on the Internet.

Of particular interest in this small dictionary there is an acute sensitivity to occurring language uses, such as netspeak, and a welcome mindfulness of the forces at play: inventiveness, borrowing and standardization of terms in the fast moving domain of computers and the Internet. That is, entries are glossed to include terms used in France and Canada, in the United States and Great Britain, as well as according to the Journal Officiel, a French government publication listing new laws, and new French terms, developed in response to the import of Anglicisms. A few "Frequently Asked Question" (FAQ) boxes are also included to highlight further controversies of usage.

Otherwise, the cover of this paperback dictionary, and all of those in the series, sporting "HARRAP'S" in bold red letters on a black background, is also identical to the Harrap's Shorter Bilingual Dictionary French-English / English-French design, which perhaps explains why it is presented as an "indispensable" companion to the Shorter.

In the ever changing and lightening speed world of the Internet, characterized as an innovative supply chain (Vijayaraghavan, 1998), it is an exercise in futility to find a dictionary in print that has successfully kept up with the terminological frontier in this domain. With the exception of the TERMIUM™ database perhaps, whose teams of translators and terminologists input terms on a continous basis, fighting "Firewith Fire", there is simply no way to keep up, much less in the print medium. Consequently, rather than focusing on what this small paperback inevitably does not include (and it "lacks-a-lot" in terms of RIPs - Routing Information Protocols, Raster files, Internet Telephony, and even "mouseovers" for example), I'll emphasize what this wonderful little resource does supply. That is, a lot that you will not find in your Shorters, or in other large, and favorite, French-English / English-French institutional giants such as the Robert & Collins, or the Larousse.

In a humorous anthropological study of the dot.com world called A field guide to the Yettie: America's Young Entrepreneurial Technocrat, Sam Sifton notes that "The New Economy is an ARE; it is an Acronym-Rich Environment..."(p. 3). Hence, the next time you are seriously contracted for a translation assignment of netspeak, (language use arising in on-line chat communication), you are going to wonder how to translate all the "TLAs" (Three-Letter Acronyms). That is, all "this lingo [...] jargon and slang - a patois made up of business-speak and geek idiom and pop cultural expression" (p. 127), as Sifton puts it. Worse still, if you embody more French language attitudes than American ones, you may even think that French simply does not lend itself to the following telegraphic style: AAMOF (As a matter of fact); BFN (bye for now); IAC (In any case); IWBNI (It would be nice if); FOLL (Following...); FYI (For your information); LOL (Laughing out loud); EOD (End of discussion).

Well, you are in for a surprise, because the Harrap's Computers & Internet Dictionary not only supplies you with a bilingual glossary of the aforementioned acronyms and abbreviations (and many more), but it also supplies you with a similar bilingual glossary of TLAs in French: AMHA (À mon humble avis [In my humble opinion]); AMA (À mon avis [In my opinion]); Quoi 2/9 (Quoi de neuf [what's new?]); K7 (cassette); WE (Weekend); STP (S'il te plait [Please]). Thus, this little paperback companion not only supplies you with expansions for abbreviations and acronyms you may have never suspected to exist, it also supplies you with enough to see that TLAs abound in both English and French, according to the same rules of abbreviation, contraction and the pressures of thinking far fster than you can type. And in this manner it also supplies sufficient material for you to inventively and successfully complete your translation assignment of the Internet Chat expressions in netspeak.

Alternatively, as a student of AREs you will begin to truly understand what everyone else is talking about on Tchatche @ Yahoo.fr. Though, for that netspeak experience, you will also need an index of "Souriants" [Smileys] - these ASCII character expressions of affect-, which the Harrap's Computers & Internet Dictionary also supplies for both languages:

:-) Content, je plaisante [Happy, I'm joking];
:-o Choqué [Very surprise, shocked];
:-(( Très triste[Very sad].

Beyond this accurate, perceptive and welcome inclusion of generation X+10 Internet language use, this small companion is most useful for general terms in the domain of computers and the Internet, and as a carefully researched source of translations. That is, a resource where there is a pervasive awareness of the unknown forces of accepted language uses: of the push to standardize, the pull to create, and the winner-takes-all breakthrough into usage. Both JO (Journal Officiel) translations and occurring translations are listed, for example for the terms "Firmware" [firmware, JO: microprogramme] and "mail" [courier électronique, JO: mél, Canada: courriel]. Additionally, for the term "mél" [mail] there is an FAQ box highlighting and explaining the controversial JO analogy of the abbreviation "mél" with "tél" [Telephone], though usage includes use of "mél" as a noun. Similarly you will discover, in the French to English direction, the JO terms "Butineur" and "Brouteur" both referring to a "Browser" [navigateur]. Thus, when there are many possible translations, or when you are unsure whether to use a direct borrowing, you may want to consult this companion.

You will want to do so because the careful glossing will sort out some your options, and because the non-prescriptive approach will supply you possibilities grounded in usage, in contrast to random inventiveness or blind and un-informed principle. For example, you will find translations for terms such as "to zip" [zipper], "zipped" [zippé], "zip disk" [cartouche zip], "zip drive" [lecteur zip], which supply useful confirmation regarding direct borrowing into French, in contrast to a more conservative translation such as "compresser" (also listed) and its derivatives (non-listed). Similarly, the glossing will help you target an appropriate translation, among many, for a term as common as the verb and noun forms of "Chat", depending on your context.

You will also find translations for very common terms such as "bullet" [puce]; "Internaute" [Netizen] in a rare instance of common usage in the opposite direction from French to English; all the different types of brackets "square" [crochet], "curly" [accolade], "round" [parentheses], "angle" [signes inférieur et supérieur], supplemented by figures of both the French (AZERT) and the English (QUERTY) keyboards, glossed for all function keys, including the special Macintosh function keys. Add to these figures, glossed desktops for both PC and Macintosh, and translations glossed according to Mac or Windows operating systems (e.g.; "corbeil" [trash] in Mac, [recycle bin] in Windows). All of this adds up to a wonderful reference to mundane, everyday language use, in the domain of computers and the Internet, which may have perhaps previously sent you on some long, indeed very winding, searches.

The Harrap's Computers & the Internet dictionary is a small paperback companion, but it is a most useful resource because it supplies carefully researched terminology and useful glossing, a perceptive inclusion of occurring Internet language uses, and translations for the mundane basics of computers and the Internet. Even if its size and medium do not for a single second match the daunting speed of innovations and corollary vastness of language developments, you may want to consult it first, for the obvious.

Sifton, S. (2000). A field guide to the Yettie: America's Young Entrepreneurial Technocrat. New York, NY: A Talk Miramax/Hyperion Paperback Original.

Vijayaraghavan, J (1998). "Competitive positioning for the New Millenium: contract engineering". White Paper. Santa Clara, CA: Comit Systems Inc.