How to Set Up the WordPress Backend in Your Language

How to Set Up the WordPress Backend in Your Language

For English speakers, installing and setting up English is a piece of cake. But what about people who speak English as a second language? Or not at all?

About 30,000 people from 178 countries took part in this year’s WordPress survey, so a vast majority of people outside the US are using WordPress. And it makes sense that those people would want to use WordPress in their own language.

This is the third post in a series on translating WordPress. Over the next week I’ll feature a new post every day on translating different aspects of WordPress. If you have any requests please let me know in the comments below.

In this post I’ll show you how to set up your WordPress backend in a language other than English.

This post is part of our Translation Week series:

Translating Your WordPress Backend

As we’ve covered in previous posts in this series, WordPress uses the GNU gettext localization framework for translation.

There are three types of files used in the framework: POT (Portable Object Template) files, which contain the text ready for translation; PO (Portable Object) files, which contain the translated text; and MO (Machine Object) files, which are PO files converted into a machine readable format.

In order to use WordPress in your target language, you’ll need to check if your language is available.

Check out WordPress in Your Language and scroll down the page to find your language.

WordPress in Japanese
The latest version of WordPress is available in Japanese.

For Danish, Polish, Japanese and various other languages, there are completely translated versions of WordPress available. So all you need to do is download and install those versions like you would the generally available version of WordPress.

For other languages, you will need to go through the WordPress Localization Repository to find your target language. The repository is a subversion repository where official WordPress translation are maintained.

Once you’ve found your language in the repository, download the .mo file. You’ll then need to FTP into your WordPress site and upload the file to /wp-content/languages/ OR /wp-includes/languages/

If you don’t already have a languages folder in either of these directories, it’s a good idea to create one so you have somewhere to store your language files.

Once you’ve done that, you need to tell WordPress to use theis language file.

Open up the wp-config.php file in your WordPress install and add the following code:

define ('WPLANG', 'zh_CN');

This lines tells WordPress to use Chinese for China, so you’ll need to replace “zh_CN” with your specific language and country code.

You can find your language and country codes at the GNU website.

After you update your wp-config.php file, your WordPress backend should begin displaying text in your chosen language.

Translations will only apply to your WordPress admin area, not your frontend. If you want to translate your site check out How to Translate a WordPress Theme.

What if WordPress is Not Available in My Language?

Sadly, WordPress isn’t available in all languages. The localization repository is updated by volunteers who contribute to WordPress.

If you’re a polyglot and want to put your powers of translation to good use, why not get involved? Login to, say hello and let everyone know what language you can help with.

Do you use the WordPress backend in a language other than English? Do you speak languages other than English? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Image credits: Free Grunge Textures