Translating:Translating the messages

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This page contains changes which are not marked for translation.
Introduction to
Getting started
Joining the community
Translating the messages
Proofreading the messages

When you start translating messages, remember that you do not translate the words only, you are translating the messages and the meaning they carry. Therefore, translators are encouraged to group together to take an ask, don't guess attitude. We also encourage translation administrators to be responsive to questions and to welcome new translators.

For languages with few speakers, who themselves are just starting to use computers and the internet, even the way to spell words or the vocabulary itself might still be under discussion. Regardless, translators should be prepared to create something new – there are bound to be words and concepts that have not been translated into their language before.

Getting started

Before starting, make sure you are able to type and read in your language. This might involve installing additional fonts and key maps for your computer.

You should understand and adopt the core principles of translation, like translating the meaning, not word by word, but still trying to be as close as possible to the original text.

You will encounter non-linguistic mark-up like variables and wiki text when translating. The gist in that is to recognize what parts should be left untranslated and what is the special meaning of them.

Translate, don't customize

The first rule is to do a translation, which gives the same message as the original. This does not mean that you should do literal translation word by word, to the contrary, you should try to make your translating as fluent as possible. It means that you should not add extra information which is not relevant, extra formatting (colors, font size), extra links to any pages which may or may not exist and anything else the original does not contain. This is to keep the default interface clean and simple and to leave the customization to administrators. Common problems are that translators link to pages they assume to exist (for example in Wikipedia), refer to extensions which are not installed by default or introduce extra formatting which is not in harmony.

Step-by-step guide

For details in the interface and how to best take use of them when translating, please take a look at the video below, subtitles are available by clicking the CC-symbol.

File:Steg för steg för översättning i translatewiki.webm

Message documentation

As you noticed in the video, the plain source text might not always be enough to make good translations. Along with each message, there is a place for context and more information for translators; make it a habit to check those to avoid confusion.


For some projects there are glossaries available, linked from the group description or in the translation documentation descriptions. When multiple translators work together, it is crucial to use the same terminology, and secondly to use the same translations. Take a look at the existing glossaries, and if there are none, think about starting one. When making glossaries, it is a good idea to write a short definition for each term instead of just providing translations. The definition helps other translators (and possibly yourself in the future) to understand and apply them better in their translations, and is also a good exercise to improve consistency in source texts.

Special features

Be aware of the special features of your language - cases where you need to take extra care is for gender, plural, punctuation and grammar. Do take a look at those pages, since they might include guidelines that can be crucial to make your translation understandable.

Parameters in messages

Expressions with a dollar sign and a number, such as $1, $2, $3, etc. are parameters. They will be replaced with other words when the message will be displayed to the user. The meaning of $1 is supposed to be described in the message documentation. (If it's not described there, please ask at Support.)

For example, a message may say "You are editing the page '$1'". $1 will be be replaced by a page name, and the result may be "You are editing the page 'Leonardo da Vinci'", "You are editing the page 'Bubusara Beyshenalieva'" etc.

When you are translating a message with parameters, place the parameter wherever it fits in your language. In the English message the message may appear at the end of the message, but if in your language it fits in the middle or in the beginning, place it there.

Further reading

The page Localisation guidelines has more details in what to consider