To aggregate or not to aggregera

Posted by Chris on October 04, 2006

I do not think I have yet posted a message that is only meant for Swedish (speaking) readers. Anyway, this post is probably mostly interesting to Swedish-speaking people, but I will keep it in English anyway (except where not possible, as is natural from the following discussion).

A couple of months ago (well about half a year ago actually, don’t know why I haven’t thought about this again until now) I was preparing a presentation on SQL Server 2005 that I was to present at a breakfast seminar at Dotway. Since I was going to speak Swedish I wanted to try and include as little Swenglish as possible (very common in the Swedish IT community otherwise, though usually called ‘Svengelska’ which would be the Swedish ‘translation’ of the ‘English’ word Swenglish). So I was looking to translate as much of the terms I could. But one term where I completely stumbled was _aggregate functions_.

*What do you call Aggregate Functions in Swedish?*

Or more specifically, I was going to describe user-defined aggregate functions in SQL Server 2005, and wanted to avoid Swenglish. To make sure we have the same English definition here, what I mean by an aggregate function is a function that calculates a single value based on a set of values as input. I guess more or less as it is defined in “Princeton Wordnet”:, but with a little more database context to it.

The first one that came to mind was the probably very Swenglish ‘*Aggregatfunktioner*’. To someone familiar with SQL Server it sounds very correct, but I guess that is precisely because they (and I) recognise the English word that is actually in there. And the only definition of the word ‘aggregat’ I have found in Swedish does not provide a lot of help here:

*aggregat* [agreg'a:t Uttal] aggregatet aggregat aggregaten subst.
grupp av sammanbyggda maskiner

A typical use of this is a word like ‘värmeaggregat’ (something like a heater). And that is nowhere near what I am looking for..

Next try was ‘*Aggregeringsfunktioner*’ and immediately after that came ‘*Aggregerande funktioner*’. These feel more Swedish, and the first one is actually used in the “IT word dictionary of PC World”: (look up ‘aggregera’), as much as you want to use that as a source.. But they still do not sound quite correct (and fully Swedish), and they definitively do not feel right to say. So I actually went ahead and used the Swenglish ‘*aggregatfunktioner*’ in my presentation, which I think worked very well and everyone understood what I meant (in a typically Swenglish fashion).

Today when I somehow came to think about this again I contacted “Jesper Holmberg”: at Microsoft and asked him what he thought about it. Jesper works with the Swedish localization of Windows and other Microsoft products (and possibly more, sorry if I missed something) and has a very interesting blog as well. He was really quick at answering and his suggestion was ‘*mängdfunktioner*’, apparantly the recommended translation at Microsoft (remember other products, such as Excel, have aggregates as well). This is a great translation that really conveys the meaning like I wanted, but unfortunately it feels like noone ever use that word in Swedish. So I fear half of the audience (if I were to give the presentation again) would not realize what I was talking about, at least not immediately. But I do think that I will actually use ‘*mängdfunktioner*’ next time unless I get a better suggestion.

So, anyone with other ideas, please post a comment…


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