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Localization of WordPress themes

Egyptian HieroglyphicsWordPress theme files should have the translatable interface terms (or, “messages”) “getexted” in the theme files. This process of “Internationalization” (i18n) facilitates “Localization” (l10n) of the theme, to wit, translation of your blog interface into your own language, if it happens to be other than English, which is the default language of WordPress.

Though WordPress core files are gettexted fully and a .pot file is being generated for each version which are made available available for download, unfortunately many WordPress themes including those listed in the WordPress “Extend” repository do not have the theme files gettexted.

This becomes a big handicap for non-English users of WordPress, who are really sizable.

But if you start trying to introduce the gettext strings to the messages in each theme file as instructed in the Codex page on translation, it is a real pain and scary to a non-techie user.

This is because of the fact that each “message” of interface string is to be located in the theme files and should be enclosed with “_e(”)” or “__(”)” as the case may be as per gettexting convention. In addition the name of the theme and the language folder is to be assigned as a “text domain” on the theme file appropriately so that WordPress engine locates the corresponding language’s .mo file in the assigned folder, in order to render the translated “messages”.

Curiously even the Default theme contained in the WordPress package (including the latest version 2.8.4) doesn’t have the files getexted! You’ll have to visit the SVN folder to download the internationalized version of default Kubrick theme!

Nikolay BachiyskiHaving said that, I have to admit that the localization facilitation (Polyglot) team of WordPress is doing an excellent service to the users by promptly offering all help that is needed. The team is headed by an young wizard name of Nikolay Bachiyski, “the Iñtërnâtiônàlizætiønër” from Bulgaria.

You can get to know more about him from here and here!

And you can download the latest WordPress.pot file from the SVN repository and download the .pot file of the latest stable version of WordPress (it is 3.1.2 as on 2011-05-05).

I am one of the active users of the localization technology for my blog in Tamil and to help others who wish to set up Tamil blogs.

I use Poedit for making .po and .mo files for use in the Tamil blogs.

If anyone wants help in localization technologies of WordPress in general and about Tamil blog in particular, please ask for it in the comment box.

Further reading on translation of WordPress plugins and themes: Urban Giraffe blog page

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4 Responses to “Localization of WordPress themes”

  1. S.K says:

    Do you want me to dwell on localization in detail duly amplifying whatever is contained in Codex and write a lucid tutorial on this subject? if so, say so in the comment box! 🙂


  2. sundar says:

    Hello S.K.

    Yes, I am planning to put up a blog in tamil but not sure how to localize my wordpress to make it tamil?

    Any suggestions?

  3. S.K says:


    Could you please furnish a little more details about what you planning to do and what kind of assistance is required.

    Yes. I offer my help.


  4. Nalankilli says:

    Hello, I am about to start an online Tamil magazine to do with Tamil thought and issues. It would really be convenient if I could just start a WordPress site in Tamil – as I’m somewhat familiar with how WordPress works.

    I visited your website and it’s very well done. Apparently, WordPress doesn’t support Tamil yet. Could you please help me with some kind of idea how you managed to put your website together where everything appears in Tamil? Where do I get started learning how to use Tamil in WordPress? I appreciate any help you can let me have. Thanks, Nalankilli

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