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Ask a #webdev: Can I build a multilingual site with WordPress?

A teacher friend of mine sent me the following question:

One of my students wanted me to ask you a question – He wondered if you could make websites in other languages using WordPress, and if the code would also be in another language.

My reply:

We need to make sure we’re distinguishing between the two definitions of “language” implied by your student’s question:

  • spoken language
  • programming language

WordPress code is written in PHP. That remains the same the world over. Whether you speak Finnish, Hindi, Russian, Japanese, English, etc, if you’re writing code for WordPress, you’re writing PHP code.

Regarding spoken languages: Yes, there are a lot of ways to “internationalize” a WordPress powered website. For example, if you are a coder writing a plugin, you’d want to use the I18n (Internationalization) and l10n (Localization) functions available in WordPress Codex. When you use those functions, it makes it easy for other people to translate the text displayed by your plugin.

Now, what I suspect your student is actually asking is this, “If I build a site with WordPress, can I set it up such that the content is available in other languages?” Yes, he should go here for more info: Multilingual WordPress.

Searching Google for “WordPress multilingual plugin” returns this plugin as the first result: WPML – The WordPress Multilingual Plugin…Basically, there are a lot of different ways to solve this problem. Hopefully my reply here gives your student and anyone else seeing this something to chew on. 😉

Photo credit: Pexels.com

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