Collaboration or cooperation

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Paolalice, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. Paolalice New Member

    Italian, Italy
    Dear Friends,

    I always have a doubt about that:

    collaboration or cooperation?

    An example: I hope we could continue our collaboration (or cooperation).
    Is it an italenglish version?

    Thank you for any suggestion!

    Bye!

    Paolalice
     
  2. SweetSoulSister Senior Member

    American English
    It should be "collaboration"...

    I hope we can continue our collaboration on the project. (It means that I hope you will work with me.)

    For cooperation...

    I hope you will give me your cooperation on this project. (It means that I hope you will work with me but also I hope that you will agree with me and not cause any resistence)
     
  3. Paolalice New Member

    Italian, Italy
    How can I say?

    Thank you for your cooperation!!;)

    You have been really helpful.


    Paolalice
     
  4. MissFit

    MissFit Senior Member

    Either cooperation or collaboration could be correct. It depends on what they are doing together. You have not provided enough context to tell.

    If two people are working together to create something (write a book, produce a film, etc.), then collaboration is the right word.

    If two people (or two businesses) are working together on a project for mutal benefit, then cooperation is the right word.
     
  5. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
  6. MissFit

    MissFit Senior Member

    In defense of collaborate and cooperate, I think it's only the context in your examples that gives these words negative nuace. I've heard them used in a positive context far more often. The first picture that come to my mind when I hear "cooperate" is some saccharine television show for preschoolers--with some purple dinosaur teaching the youngsters that they should cooperate. The first idea that comes to my mind when I hear "collaborate" is two authors writing a book together.

    "Hanged for collaboration" sounds very strange to me. We shoot our traitors on charges of "treason" rather than hang them for "collaboration." (Actually, we let the latest one cut a deal to trade information for life sentence, but that's beside the point.)

    Work together gives the same meaning, but collaborate and cooperate seem to me to make the sentece flow more pleasantly. I am generally in favor of economy of words. Besides that, what's the point having a good vocabulary if you don't get to use it?;)
     
  7. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I'm inclined to agree with se16teddy, especially with regard to 'collaboration', but I'm begiining to wonder whether it's not a generation thing. I was a child during WWII and 'collaboration' is firmly fixed in my mind as 'dealing with the enemy' - a traitorous act. I always advise my students to avoid using the word, preferring 'cooperation' instead. It might even be another AE/BE thing since I notice that almost all the replies giving 'collaboration' a positive connotation have come from the States.
     
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There is no essentially negative sense to either collaborate or co-operate in my mind.

    The following is an exaggerated statement of the difference between these two - as I understand it.

    If you and I co-operate, then we share information of mutual benefit, I make sure that the things you need me to do get done, you make sure the things I need you to do get done.
    You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

    If you and I collaborate, we work together in a team towards the same objective.
    We both scratch Elmer's back (Elmer is an elephant).
     
  9. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod, I say, Moderator

    Arizona
    American English
    The definition of collaborate (http://www.wordreference.com/definition/collaborate) is 1. to cooperate as a team member 2. to collude as a traitor.

    Reviving an old thread with a question:
    Is collaborate likely to be understood by BE speakers more readily with the 2nd definition than the 1st? Meaning... if I say "collaborate", do you immediately think "traitor"?
     
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Collaborate is definition (1) for me - and I use collaborate, collaboration, collaborative effort, quite a lot.
     
  11. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    While I, for reasons explained in an earlier thread, take the opposite view.:) I guess it has something to do with the generation gap.;) !
     
  12. Real Name Banned

    England
    Collaboration is definitely not always positive. In time of war a collaborator is an individual who works with an outside entity against his own society or faction. So it is not positive in that sense. Used abstractly collaboration refers to all processes wherein people work together without an overall leader directing them. In this sense it is neutral.
     
  13. manshun1982

    manshun1982 New Member

    United Kingdom
    Cantonese
    Just a little addition: among journalists and scholars, "collaborationist" is a more common term to refer to one who betrays and works with enemy. It is not necessarily negative in the sense that working with an enemy is not necessarily wrong (e.g., Nazis working with Allies to bring down Hitler.)
     
  14. kengwilson

    kengwilson Senior Member

    Germany
    English from the North of England
    Hallo, manschun, and welcome to the forum. I would like your example better if you said "Germans" instead of "Nazis"; these latter would be unlikely to plot against their Fuerer. And although I can't speak for journalists (who in my view do far too little to foster good English) I'm pretty sure that not all scholars would agrre with you about "collaboration" being primarily negative in force - if this is indeed the correct interpretation of your comment about "collaborationist". My vote is with panjandrum (even if he/she is a Paddy).

    KGW
     
  15. manshun1982

    manshun1982 New Member

    United Kingdom
    Cantonese
    Germans are not necessarily Nazis. Technically, it is not betrayal if a German works with anti-Axis group, thus my choice of word.

    Not meant to be rude, but who says "all scholars"? And who says "collaboration is primarily negative in force"?
     
  16. kengwilson

    kengwilson Senior Member

    Germany
    English from the North of England
    Manshun1982,
    It is not in the least rude on your part to question/correct my (mis)interpretation of your contribution. Your phrase "among journalists and scholars" I now no longer take to mean " among all" scholars and journalists. Not you but a number of other contributors to this thread have felt that "collaboration" is primarily negative in force. I was wondering if this was also your opinion on the basis of your mentioning the derivative "collaborationist" in terms of a a negative resonance. I now take it that your comment was not intended to throw light on the word "collaboration".

    I could not agree more with you that Germans are not necessarily Nazis; however, Germans who worked with anti-Axis groups during the war were very likely to be executed by the Nazis, who would certainly regard this as betrayal, and - as I said before - very unlikely to be Nazis themselves (except perhaps on paper).

    KGW
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2011
  17. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    << Moderator note.
    Please remember that this forum is for discussion of language. This is not the place to discuss history or politics.
    panjandrum >>
     
  18. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    A large number of scientists are collaborating on a project to establish the mass of the Higgs boson.

    Such a sentence has absolutely no negative connotation for the word and is the first meaning that comes to mind in this context.

    Many countrymen were subsequently found to be collaborators during the government's purge in the 70s.

    In this context the word has negative connotations.
     
  19. gquixote

    gquixote Senior Member

    South Africa
    English
    I think one needs to go to the root origins of the words to find the correct meanings. Without researching further, the following comes immediately to mind:

    To conduct an operation together (cooperate) implies action together between two or more people in order to achieve a mutually desired end regardless of the ethical, epistemelogical or aesthetic value of the mutually desired end.

    To conduct a "laboratorial" (for want of a better word) endeavour together, implies a more ethically, epistemologically, or aesthetically motivated endeavour based on rather more objectively verifiable and valuable ends.

    So I think that cooperate has a more authoritarian nuance whereas collaborate implies something more virtuous.
     
  20. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Could we have that again in English, GQ?
     
  21. gquixote

    gquixote Senior Member

    South Africa
    English
    Ok

    Collaborate has the Latin word "labor" meaning "work" at its root. The word "laboratory" has the same root. So the words "collaborate", "laboratory" and "labour" are related closely.

    Cooperate has the latin word "opera" at its root also meaning to work, but in a less "pure" sense - it implies "carrying something out - carrying out anything - carrying out any old task - making something happen".

    SO I think that collaborate has a more specific meaning than cooperate. Collaboration implies a more specific "virtuous" sort of work than "cooperate" which has less value-judgement attached to it.
     
  22. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Erm. Allright. Okay. (I can't think of a politer way of saying, "I totally disagree with your theory":D)
     
  23. gquixote

    gquixote Senior Member

    South Africa
    English
    Ok... Thoughts and theories can be so misleading can't they?
    Still, I think I am onto something :D
     
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Aha, so a labourer is more pure and virtuous than an opera-singer.
     
  25. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I think collaborate is frequently more voluntary than cooperate. You may cooperate for a variety of reasons but without pressure or request from the other party you might not do whatever it is. This can be mutual, say in defending borders from a mutual enemy where countires might form a cooperative defence organization. Or it can be one-sided as in "The suspect was apprehended after the crime and is now cooperating with authorities" - that would never be collaborating, would it? Perhaps so, if the perp became a mass snitch on the crime gang - but then that fits in the voluntary category!
    Collaborate = I like to work
    Cooperate = OK, if I must.
     
  26. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    I see nothing authoritarian about cooperate, although there may be contexts where there is an authoritarian aspect. He cooperated with the policeman who was trying to clear the traffic (collaborate would be wrong). However, there is nothing notably virtuous about collaborate. He collaborated with the secret police in their effort to kill all of the protest leaders (cooperate would not have the same meaning of evil intent).

    The derivation is neither here nor there in determining current meaning - cooperate comes from "work together" in Ecclesiastical Latin and collaborate comes from "work together" in vulgar Latin. So what?

    If anything, cooperate is more likely to have a virtuous context, since cooperation can involve going out of one's way to be helpful (as my man above helping the policeman with the traffic). In reality, the basic meaning of both is the same, to work together - and if it is that meaning that is being used collaborate would usually be preferred when discussing the actions of members of a team working on a task or project and cooperate where individuals or teams help others achieve their aims.

    I don't think it is right to suggest that cooperate necessarily implies OK if I must - but that is one of the shades of meaning which cannot be met by collaborate. I do agree that collaborate does not usually fit where there is no compulsion, but even then, it depends on context. He was given the option of a bullet in his wife's head or collaboration. He decided to collaborate with the Gestapo. (Sorry to come back to Nazis - you can use the Stasi or the NKVD instead if you wish) Cooperate does not fit here - his decision to collaborate of course means that he has decided to cooperate, but the action required is to be a traitor, which cooperate does not mean.
     
  27. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I was trying to identify pattern rather than lay down rigid interpretations. I agree that "OK if I must" was a bit of an overgeneralization using the suspect as example. My other example of mutual defence did not suggest coercion of one party by the other. In any case, we are certainly agreed that context will trump any broad definitions. The voluntary shade for collaboration was intended for the "positive" meaning . The negative one you illustrated could be voluntary or could be coerced or "chosen" as the lesser of two evils.
     
  28. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    You can cooperate with someone by just allowing them to do something, i.e. you can cooperate passively (or actively). I would think that some sort of action is implied by "collaborate", i.e. you actively collaborate.
    "I cooperated with the tree trimmers by allowing them to come onto my property."
    "I collaborated with the tree trimmers by cutting some of the lower branches before they arrived."
     
  29. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Wikipedia's introductory paragraphs on collaboration provide (like this thread) an interesting discussion of the balance between the positive and negative aspects of the word collaboration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaboration

    Clearly, the nuances are different for different people. The more intimate experience you have of Nazi-occupied Europe, and the emotional legacy surviving there today, the more you are aware of the negative aspects.
     
  30. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Wikipedia's article on the etymological fallacy is also worth reading in this regard. It's a very nuanced discussion of when etymology is relevant and when it is not.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2011
  31. gquixote

    gquixote Senior Member

    South Africa
    English
    Great teddy and exgerman! Thanks. Very interesting indeed! It throws the concept of radicalism into a new light :)
     
  32. Eng_voc New Member

    Chinese
    <<Moderator note: This has been merged with an existing thread on the subject>>

    Hi, could someone help on describing the difference between two words of collaboration and cooperation? For, e.g. if a IT support consultant is working on a project, he is collaborating or cooperating with other people.
    Thanks.

    Eng_voc
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2014
  33. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    If you are specifically talking about working with other people on some project, "collaborate" is probably better. "Cooperate" doesn't imply "work" as strongly as "collaborate" does.
     
  34. GandalfMB

    GandalfMB Senior Member

    Yellow Beach, Bulgaria
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Hmm...this is actually an excellent question :). Let's see what other native speakers think.
     

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