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Installing WordPress in Your Language

Note: this article is about displaying the WordPress Administrative “back-end” in your language. If you are looking for information on how to localize your “front-end” website, or customize your theme to be localizable, refer to i18n for WordPress Developers (and optionally Internationalization and Localization for theme developers. If you are interested in how to build a multilingual (e.g.: French / English) WordPress site, you can start your journey here.

Although WordPress displays in U.S. English by default, it has the built-in capability to be used in any language. The WordPress community has already translated WordPress into many languages, and there are Themes, translation files, and support available in many other languages (see WordPress in Your Language).

Installing Language Files from the Admin Dashboard

As of version 4.0, you can have WordPress automatically install the language of your choice during the installation process.

For WordPress 4.1 or later, you can install language packs directly from the Admin back-end at any time. WordPress will download them and switch the admin back-end to that language. Navigate to Settings > General > Site Language and select from the list of available languages. For Multisite Super Admins, you can set the default language using the Network Administration Settings pane.

Manually Installing Language Files

Here are the steps you will need to follow to install an international version of WordPress.

Note: If you make an error in the steps or you do not specify the correct language, WordPress will default back to English. For more help Installing WordPress, see Installing WordPress and FAQ Installation.

  • Download the .mo language file for your language. You can get the .mo files from here or export from a specific WordPress translation project. For example, you want to export a Tagalog .mo file, you need to go to that specific Tagalog translation project (example link), go the the bottom, choose the Machine Object Message Catalog (.mo) from the dropdown and hit export. The naming convention of the .mo files is based on the ISO-639 language code (e.g. pt for Portuguese) followed by the ISO-3166 country code (e.g. _PT for Portugal or _BR for Brazil). So, the Brazilian Portuguese file would be called pt_BR.mo, and a non-specific Portuges file would be called pt.mo. Complete lists of codes can be found at (country codes) and (language codes).
  • On your site server, create a new folder in your /wp-content directory called /languages.
  • Upload the .mo file to the languages folder you just created.

Use a plugin to install Language Files

You can use the plugin wp-native-dashboard to automatically download language files stored in the wordpress svn repository. However, as of the time of this writing, the plugin is 2 years out of date and only supports a very small selection of languages.

Setting the language for your site

Single-Site Installations

WordPress v4.0 and above

  • Change the language in the admin settings screen. Settings > General > Site Language.

Note: In any case that the language that you need is not available in the above option, please refer to installing the language files manually.

WordPress v3.9.2 and below

  • Open your wp-config.php file in a text editor and search for:
define ('WPLANG', '');
  • Edit this line according to the .mo file you’ve just downloaded, e.g. for the Portuguese spoken in Brazil you must add:
define ('WPLANG', 'pt_BR');
  • Note that if the .mo and .po files don’t exist for a language code called for in wp-config.php then there is no error message, but the code is still used in language_attributes(). This is useful for those of us whose language is similar enough to en_US not to require translation, but who don’t want en-US as the language tag in the blog, instead wanting some other variant of English. For example:
define ('WPLANG', 'en_GB');
  • Once you’ve added your language code, save the file.
  • Upload the modified wp-config.php file into the WordPress root directory.
  • Open your browser and go to your WordPress site. It should now display in the newly-installed language.

Multi-Site Installations

If you have a site network (WordPress multisite), the language is set on a per-blog basis through the “Site language” option in the Settings > General subpanel.

You can set the default language for the entire network under the Network Admin > Settings screen (“Default Language”).

Adding Translation

If you want to add translations for terms that are still displaying in English after installation, visit translate.wordpress.org and select your language. To get started, refer this page in the Translator’s Handbook.

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