General Expectations for Translators

As a translator, you want to make sure the language of the localized project is well-polished. Establishing and following translation rules might seem like a lot of extra work if you are just starting out. In fact, it helps cut the translation team’s workload by reducing the need for correction and clarification.

Below are some best practices to keep in mind for translations.

The language files for WordPress projects should only contain links to pages found in The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. domains (or other relevant project domains, such as or the translation community’s official documentation. If you need to link to a translated version of the original link, make sure it has a permanent home in one of those places. Including commercial links in translations can lead to your removal from the translation team.

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Don’t translate literally, translate organically

Being bi- or multi-lingual, you undoubtedly know that the languages you speak have different structures, rhythms, tones, and inflections. Translated messages don’t need to be structured the same way as the English ones: take the ideas that are presented and come up with a message that expresses the same thing in a natural way for the target language. It’s the difference between creating an equal message and an equivalent message: don’t replicate, replace. Even with more structural items in messages, you have creative license to adapt and change if you feel it will be more logical for, or better adapted to, your target audience.

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Try to keep the same level of formality (or informality)

Each message has a different level of formality or informality. Exactly what level of formality or informality to use for each message in your target language is something you’ll have to figure out on your own (or with your team), but WordPress messages (informational messages in particular) tend to have a politely informal tone in English. Try to accomplish the equivalent in the target language, within your cultural context. However, try to avoid inserting new elements into your translation, otherwise it may unintentionally change the meaning. For example, avoid adding things like emojis to increase informality. However, if an emoji is already included in the stringString A string is a translatable part of the software. A translation consists of a multitude of localized strings. that isn’t culturally appropriate, it can be modified to something more suitable.

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Don’t use slang or audience-specific terms

Some amount of terminology is to be expected in a blog but refrain from using colloquialisms that only the “in” crowd will get. If the uninitiated blogger were to install WordPress in your language, would they know what the term means? Words like pingbackPingback A pingback is a special type of comment that's created when you link to another blog post, as long as the other blog is set to accept pingbacks. Pingback allows you to notify other bloggers that you have linked to their article on your website. Although there are some minor technical differences, a trackback is basically the same thing as a pingback., trackback, and feed are exceptions to this rule; they’re terminology that are typically difficult to translate, and many language teams choose to leave in English.

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Learn from other localizations in your language

If you get stuck or need direction, try reading through the translations of other popular software tools to get a feel for what terms are commonly used, how formality is addressed, etc. Of course, WordPress has its own tone and feel, so keep that in mind when you’re reading other localizations, but feel free to research UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing. terms and the like to maintain consistency with other software in your language.

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Keep it consistent

Consistency is one of the most important characteristics of high-quality translation. To maintain consistency throughout various WordPress projects, you can use glossary and style guide specific to your language to look up the preferred translation for certain terms. Additionally, use the Consistency tool to see how other projects have translated terms or phrases within your localeLocale Locale = language version, often a combination of a language code and a region code, for instance es_MX denotes Spanish as it’s used in Mexico. A list of all locales supported by WordPress in

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Don’t insert unnecessary ideology in the translation

The WordPress translation project is where we translate the software and related sites and apps, not a place to start a debate over other topics such as political, cultural, or religious issues.

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Don’t change the behavior of themes and plugins

We should not use the translation to change the behavior of a web page in ways that were not intended by the author of the code. For instance, we should not add or remove parameters like target="_blank".

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Be careful with machine translation

Machine translation can be an efficient way to understand content in another language. And it can, in many cases, speed up the translation process a lot. But you should never submit raw machine translations without manual checking/editing. Usually, machine translation doesn’t keep track of the specific glossary, terminology and style needed. Furthermore, if parameters or htmlHTML HTML is an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is a markup language that is used in the development of web pages and websites. tags are incorrectly handled, the machine translation may even break site content.

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Be attentive to placeholders for variables

Many stringsString A string is a translatable part of the software. A translation consists of a multitude of localized strings. have placeholders that in the resulting webpage will be replaced with their current value. These codes should be maintained in the translation, otherwise the end user would see your translated placeholder instead of the intended variable value.

Placeholders in PHPPHP PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML. code are usually placed with the command printf() and may look like this:


In these codes “s” represents a string, and “d” an integer. There are more types described in the PHP manual but they are much more rarely used in our strings.

Keep in mind that in strings that use placeholders with this format, the percent sign “%” is represented by “%%”. So a typical (and valid) combination you may see is %d%%.

The additional 1$, 2$, etc. in the middle of the placeholder can be used for variable swapping or variable reuse. If your source string would be %d monkeys are contained in the %s and you’d need to put the variables in the opposite order, then a translation like The %2$s contains %1$d monkeys would be valid. By the way, strings that show the count of something should in most cases use the _n() command, where for each target language the string may need to be translated to a specific number of variants, depending on the count.

Nowadays, placeholders in Javascript may use the same format as we see for PHP but they also come in various additional shapes, for instance ===RECIPIENT=== or ###CUSTOMER###

Occasionally, we may encounter other placeholder formats, especially in translations for the mobile apps, since they are partially written in other programming languages.

For iOSiOS The operating system used on iPhones and iPads. you may see %@ in addition to other formats. A more detailed list of placeholders for iOS can be found in Apple’s documentation for developers.

For reference, there’s a similar document for developers with descriptions of placeholders for Android.

In case of doubt, you may in SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at ask your fellow translators for advice in the polyglots channel (or, where relevant, in mobile or coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress.-editor).

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Maintaining a WordPress locale is a lot of work that is best handled by a team. Good collaboration ensures the sustainability of the contribution and improves translation quality. Check this list of local Slack teams where you can communicate with other translators of your language. Another angle of cooperation is to embrace that we’re all volunteering our efforts here. This means, for instance, that it’s reasonable for a General Translation EditorGeneral Translation Editor A General Translation Editor (often referred to as GTE) is a person, who has global access to validate strings on all projects for a specific locale. to reject in bulk if someone has submitted a large number of strings with such low quality that it would take too much time to find and approve those strings that happen to be correct.

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