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Ví un cartel fuera de una tienda que decía: "Computadoras y ordenadores" en un cuadro "cubano" fuera de New York City,

En un principio, creo que ambas palabras significan "computer". Pero, ¿hay alguna sutil diferencia entre las dos, por ejemplo, que una se refiera a mainframes y la otra a PC, u otras diferencias entre tipos de computadoras?


Inglés

I saw a sign outside a shop that said, "Computadoras y Ordenadores" in a "Cuban" area outside of New York City.

At one level, I believe that both words mean "computer." But are there subtle distinctions between the two, e.g. that one word refers to "mainframes," and the other to "PCs," or some other differences between types of computers?

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Ordenador is not a proper word for a computer because it only implies something that sorts (orders). Some software sorts information, but a computer is capable of doing many other things it is programmed to do. –  FrankComputerAtYmailDotCom Jul 15 '12 at 17:37

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Albertus is right. It will be of great help if you can tell us where did you read it. In Argentina (DF) there's a vulgar-common difference, but in general this difference is used by people who doesn't know anything about hardware, and can't differ a notebook from a netbook.

They are the same, but "computadora" (for these people) is a PC (desktop), and "ordenador" is the abbreviation of "ordenador portatil", like a notebook or netbook.

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Added location in the question. –  Tom Au Jun 3 '12 at 16:49
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In the old times, 70's, an "ordenador" it was a server-dedicated for storing data, records, etc. And a "computadora" it was for a "calculate" anything. Like "calculadora". But I don't think the ad means that :D "ordenador" means "who sorts" and "computadora" means "who computes" –  Leandro Jun 3 '12 at 17:08
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Second paragraph. That's the answer I was looking for. Accepted. –  Tom Au Jun 15 '12 at 13:02

Computadores o computadoras (used in most Spanish speaking countries) and ordenadores (used in Spain) are exactly the same.

The singular is computador or computadora (and ordenador).

The words they come from (computer in English and ordinateur in French ) also mean the same.

I have never seen the feminine "ordenadora".

The sign you saw is a mystery to me.

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+1 for the origins. In Spanish Wikipedia you can read where the French "ordinateur" comes from. –  JoulSauron Jun 2 '12 at 18:48
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maybe you want to add that the singular is "ordenador". –  JoulSauron Jun 2 '12 at 18:51
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I think the added "Ordenador" because Spanish-speaking Europeans better equate that word to a computer, although "Computadora" is more popularly understood and accepted. –  FrankComputerAtYmailDotCom Jun 22 '12 at 2:36
    
Se me hace que "ordinateur" viene de la capabilitad de la máquina de llevar a cabo ordenes. De ser cierto esto, sería más conectado con programabilidad que "computer". Este último término se refiere más a la aritmética que la máquina realiza. –  Walter Mitty Jan 18 '13 at 3:00

In Spain everybody says ordenador. If you say computadora people will understand you but they will probably laugh or smile as it sounds weird.

Computadora sounds like a literal traduction from English computer, and nowadays sounds "oldy" in Spain.

The meaning of course is the same, but if you go to Spain you will realize that the use changes.

This "phenomenom" happens for many words in Spanish; in South America they have one common word and in Spain that same word sounds "oldy" or funny (a good example is "celular" and "móvil" for mobile phone). So it is good to think that there are two Spanish languages, the Latin and the Castellano. You have to choose which one to use for each particular situation.

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Bienvenido a Spanish.SE! –  JoulSauron Jul 5 '12 at 13:55
    
Totally agree. I know in Spain they use ordenador. In Mexico we say computadora more often, but we do understand ordenador, though it sounds a bit too proper. –  alonso.torres Feb 11 at 23:53

Yes, they use 'ordenador' in Spain (personal experience). I assumed that it related to 'putting in order', not just 'sort', as mentioned above. It made sense to me in the sense that 'to ordenate' implies more that just sorting--it is ordering (along a continuum more or less) of something in a manner that makes sense, or follows a set of criteria. Deep down inside, that's what computers do--regardless of the purpose of a piece of software.

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I believe it has nothing to do with 'putting in order', is rather that you 'give orders/commands' to the ordenador. –  alonso.torres Feb 12 at 0:05

Cuando empecé a estudiar informática (hace 30 años) nos enseñaron en la universidad (es España) que se debía decir ordenador y no computador(a). La razón que nos dieron es que se había decidido utilizar las palabras del francés y no del inglés por ser éste más cercano (lengua latina).

Desde entonces, se sigue utilizando casi exclusivamente ordenador (y no vale la pena discutir si un ordenador sólo sirve para ordenar al igual que es futil la discusión de si una computadora sólo sirve para realizar cómputos).

La cuestión del francés no aplicaba sólo al tema del ordenador sino también al "software" que por aquel entonces querían que llamásemos "logical" (¿alguien recuerda haber utilizado / visto esta palabra alguna vez?).

Como podéis apreciar no siempre tuvo éxito el tema de la proximidad de la lengua latina tanto como que no creo que nunca llegara a aparecer logical en el diccionario de la RAE (ni en ningún otro).

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