As an open-source project, you are probably aware that the WordPress platform is built by a large, global network of volunteers. While the developers and designers often get the most attention, there’s a lot of effort going on in the background that’s just as essential — even if it doesn’t involve a code editor. In this post, we want to look at some of those unsung heroes: the WordPress Polyglots team.
In today’s interconnected world, language plays a vital role in bringing people together and bridging communication gaps. That extends to WordPress. As one of the most popular content management systems, it empowers millions of users worldwide to create and share content. However, its full potential can only be harnessed when it’s accessible to users from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
This is where the Polyglots team comes in. By translating WordPress into multiple languages and making it suitable for different localities, they ensure that it’s usable for a global audience. Below, we’ll delve into who the Polyglots team is, what they do, and why their work is indispensable to the growth and success of the WordPress project and community.
What is the Polyglots Team and What Do They Do?
As mentioned, the WordPress Polyglots team is a group of dedicated volunteers (15,000 of them!) responsible for translating WordPress. They play a crucial role in the WordPress project by ensuring that the platform, its themes, and plugins are available in different languages. To better understand what they do, let’s start of with some definitions.
Important Concepts and Terms
There are two processes at work with offering WordPress in different languages: Internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n).
The first means making software like WordPress and its themes and plugins ready to be translated. This happens by encoding text (so called strings) in a way that you can provide alternatives for them in other languages.
__( 'Previous page', 'twentyfifteen' )
Translating these strings then is called localization. When both are in place, it makes it possible for users to use WordPress, themes, and plugins in their chosen language.
In WordPress, available language versions are called Locales. They describe not only the languages themselves but also local dialects. For example, English (U.S.) is a locale as is English (U.K.). Same for things like Brazilian Portuguese, Argentinian Spanish, or Austrian German.
There are more terms that are important to know, however, these will do for the moment. If you want to dive more deeply into the world of Polyglots, check the official glossary.
How is the Polyglots Team Organized?
The concept of locales is also important because it is one of the basic ways the Polyglots team organizes itself. There are different teams for different locales with their own team leads and organization to help with the day-to-day translation work.
Each team also has their own so-called Rosetta site, which is where they take care of their locales. These are simply the localized versions of the WordPress project website, such as es.wordpress.org for the Spanish version.
Here, users can find information about WordPress in their own language and also download the localized version of it . It’s also where locale teams organize their own translation efforts.
Furthermore, there are various roles within those teams, such as:
- Locale Manager – An admin role for a particular locale and Rosetta site. They manage and appoint translation editors.
- General Translation Editor (GTE) – Can validate strings for all projects of a certain locale.
- Translation Editor (TE) – Appoint new translation editors, and approve the work of first-time translators. Can also be focused on a single project.
- Translation Contributor – Those are the volunteers who contribute translations. Their work is verified by Translation Editors.
These different roles work together to ensure high-quality translations and maintain consistency across the platform. They are like user roles on a WordPress site and their capabilities apply to the translation platform. You can find more more details here.
What Exactly Does the Polyglots Team Do?
So, it’s clear that the WordPress Polyglots team works on making WordPress available in different languages. However, how exactly do they do that? What does their work encompass in particular?
- Translate WordPress components – That includes WordPress core, default themes (the Twenty X series), BuddyPress, bbPress, the Rosetta sites, and certain plugins. In addition, Polyglot members can opt to translate any theme or plugin they want.
- Create locale packages – The team works publishes locale packages for each language, which consist of translated strings. These packages allow users to install and use WordPress in their preferred language.
- Set and maintain translation guidelines – The Polyglots team ensures best practices to maintain consistency and quality in translations. Their guidelines cover areas such as tone, terminology, and style, which help create a cohesive experience for users across different languages.
- Community involvement – The team actively participates in various WordPress events, like WordCamps and Contributor Days. Here, they collaborate with other WordPress enthusiasts, share knowledge, and encourage more people to join their efforts.
- Ongoing maintenance – They are publishing continuous updates and improve translations to ensure they stay current with the latest WordPress features and developments. This also includes addressing user feedback and fixing any issues that arise e.g. RTL (right-to-left) languages and design problems for certain language versions.
So, if you are one of the many people who don’t use WordPress in English, you have the Polyglot team to thank for that.
How Many Languages Have They Translated Already?
As you can see from the Teams page, to this date there are 208 locales.
However, these translations are in different states of completeness. At the time of this writing:
- 63 locales have their translation up to date (90%+ of the latest WordPress version translated). The rest is at least one major version behind.
- 79 Locales have never released a language pack or don’t even have their own Rosetta site.
Overall, it’s probably fair to say that there are around 70 locales where the majority of the WordPress interface can appear in the chosen target language. Note that we are only talking about translations of the latest version of Core here. It does not take into account themes, plugins, patterns, and other components.
If you want more information about that, click on any Locale you are interested in on the main translation page.
Why is Translation Work Like This Important?
That leaves the question, why go through all the trouble? Why not simply leave WordPress in one language?
Well, as of June 2020, over half of all WordPress installs are running in a language different than English. So, obviously there is a big need and market for translations. That’s why the work of the WordPress Polyglots team is critical for the WordPress project and community. In addition, there are several other reasons.
WordPress is used by millions of people worldwide. Providing translations in multiple languages makes the platform more accessible and user-friendly for a diverse, global audience. This helps WordPress maintain its position as a leading content management system.
By offering WordPress in various languages, the Polyglots team ensures that non-English speakers can also benefit from it. Doing so fosters an inclusive and diverse community. This encourages participation from people with different backgrounds and perspectives, which ultimately enriches the WordPress ecosystem.
The Polyglots team not only translates the platform but also focuses on localization. That means, the content is culturally appropriate and relevant to the target audience. This enhances the user experience and makes WordPress more appealing to users from different regions and cultures.
The team’s work helps bring together contributors from around the world who share a common goal: making WordPress available to as many people as possible. This international collaboration strengthens the global WordPress community and promotes knowledge exchange and learning.
Plugin and Theme Developers
Translating plugins and themes allows developers to reach a broader audience and increase their potential user base. This encourages more developers to create and share their work within the WordPress community. That, in turn, contributes to the platform’s growth and innovation.
By providing translations, the Polyglots team helps lower the entry barrier for new users. That makes it easier for them to adopt WordPress. As a result, the platform’s user base continues to grow, contributing to its overall success and sustainability.
In summary, the WordPress Polyglots team plays a vital role in the growth and success of the WordPress project and community. It promotes accessibility, inclusiveness, and diversity through their translation and localization efforts.
What are Their Plans for the Future?
Like every other part of WordPress project, the Polyglots team is constantly working on how to contribute more to WordPress. You can find out more about that by following the blog or signing up to the monthly newsletter. The latter contains top news, discussions, and proposals from the Polyglots team and is also available on the website.
At the moment, these are the main objectives:
- Staying on top of new WordPress versions (two more releases are planned for this year!).
- Improving and updating their translation tools and interface. They recently integrated DeepL and Chat GPT to make things faster and also want to make GlotPress available for normal WordPress users. They could send back translations from their site own as proposals.
- Keep updating theme, plugin, and patterns strings for more complete translations.
- Attend Contributor Days at upcoming WordCamps.
- Do outreach to find more translators and locale teams, organize local translation events, keep improving their onboarding.
As you can see, there is plenty to do and they can use all the help they can get. So, if you’d like to lend a hand, make sure to read the next section as well.
How Can You Get Involved?
Would-be WordPress translators have different ways of getting involved. The first step is to read the official handbook. It goes over important parts such as:
- How translating WordPress works
- How the Polyglots team collaborates, e.g. the main communication channels
- What the duties of certain roles are
- Guides for plugin and theme authors who want their work translated (or translate it themselves)
- Frequently asked questions and more
In addition, join the Make WordPress Slack and participate in the #polyglots channel. You can find their meeting schedule in the sidebar of the main Polyglots page.
These channels are also available to ask questions at any time. Plus, there are Slack channels for certain languages and locales.
After that, most things happen on the main Polyglots page. There is a chat blog where people can make requests to have their translations reviewed and become part of Polyglots. You will be using GlotPress for the actual translation, which you can learn about here.
Alternatively, use your language and WordPress skills by taking part in your local support forum. Go to the locale site of a chosen language (e.g. de.wordpress.org) and then head to the forum and help other users.
More details about how to get involved with translating WordPress here.
The WordPress Polyglots Team: Making WordPress Work for Everyone
The Polyglots team is one of those parts of the WordPress project that is not always visible but nevertheless indispensable. They make sure that users can take advantage of the platform in their native language which more than half of them do.
They also ensure translation quality and keep an overview of the different language versions. Besides continually improving their processes, tools, and bringing more translators on board that is.
It’s a tremendous effort and takes a lot of energy to do all of that. If you are looking for a way to contribute to your favorite CMS without coding knowledge, translating is a great alternative. You are welcome to join and help out.
Let us know in the comments if you decided to contribute your own language knowledge to the Polyglots team. We’d like to thank you personally!