Go to the first, previous, next, last section, table of contents.
When starting a new translation, the translator creates a file called
‘LANG.po’, as a copy of the ‘package.pot’ template
file with modifications in the initial comments (at the beginning of the file)
and in the header entry (the first entry, near the beginning of the file).
The easiest way to do so is by use of the ‘msginit’ program.
$ cd PACKAGE-VERSION
$ cd po
The alternative way is to do the copy and modifications by hand.
To do so, the translator copies ‘package.pot’ to
‘LANG.po’. Then she modifies the initial comments and
the header entry of this file.
msginit program creates a new PO file, initializing the meta
information with values from the user's environment.
Here are more details. The following header fields of a PO file are
automatically filled, when possible.
The value is guessed from the
configure script or any other files
in the current directory.
The value is taken from the
PO-Creation-Data in the input POT
file, or the current date is used.
The value is taken from user's password file entry and the mailer
- ‘Language-Team, Language’
These values are set according to the current locale and the predefined
list of translation teams.
- ‘MIME-Version, Content-Type, Content-Transfer-Encoding’
These values are set according to the content of the POT file and the
current locale. If the POT file contains charset=UTF-8, it means that
the POT file contains non-ASCII characters, and we keep the UTF-8
encoding. Otherwise, when the POT file is plain ASCII, we use the
The value is first looked up from the embedded table.
As an experimental feature, you can instruct
msginit to use the
information from Unicode CLDR, by setting the
- ‘-i inputfile’
Input POT file.
If no inputfile is given, the current directory is searched for the
POT file. If it is ‘-’, standard input is read.
- ‘-o file’
Write output to specified PO file.
If no output file is given, it depends on the ‘--locale’ option or the
user's locale setting. If it is ‘-’, the results are written to
Assume the input file is a Java ResourceBundle in Java
syntax, not in PO file syntax.
Assume the input file is a NeXTstep/GNUstep localized resource file in
.strings syntax, not in PO file syntax.
- ‘-l ll_CC’
Set target locale. ll should be a language code, and CC should
be a country code. The command ‘locale -a’ can be used to output a list
of all installed locales. The default is the user's locale setting.
Declares that the PO file will not have a human translator and is instead
Specify whether or when to use colors and other text attributes.
See section 9.11.1 The
--color option for details.
Specify the CSS style rule file to use for
See section 9.11.3 The
--style option for details.
Write out a Java ResourceBundle in Java
.properties syntax. Note
that this file format doesn't support plural forms and silently drops
Write out a NeXTstep/GNUstep localized resource file in
Note that this file format doesn't support plural forms.
- ‘-w number’
Set the output page width. Long strings in the output files will be
split across multiple lines in order to ensure that each line's width
(= number of screen columns) is less or equal to the given number.
Do not break long message lines. Message lines whose width exceeds the
output page width will not be split into several lines. Only file reference
lines which are wider than the output page width will be split.
Display this help and exit.
Output version information and exit.
The initial comments "SOME DESCRIPTIVE TITLE", "YEAR" and
"FIRST AUTHOR <EMAIL@ADDRESS>, YEAR" ought to be replaced by sensible
information. This can be done in any text editor; if Emacs is used
and it switched to PO mode automatically (because it has recognized
the file's suffix), you can disable it by typing M-x fundamental-mode.
Modifying the header entry can already be done using PO mode: in Emacs,
type M-x po-mode RET and then RET again to start editing the
entry. You should fill in the following fields.
This is the name and version of the package. Fill it in if it has not
already been filled in by
This has already been filled in by
xgettext. It contains an email
address or URL where you can report bugs in the untranslated strings:
- Strings which are not entire sentences, see the maintainer guidelines
in section 4.3 Preparing Translatable Strings.
- Strings which use unclear terms or require additional context to be
- Strings which make invalid assumptions about notation of date, time or
- Pluralisation problems.
- Incorrect English spelling.
- Incorrect formatting.
This has already been filled in by
You don't need to fill this in. It will be filled by the PO file editor
when you save the file.
Fill in your name and email address (without double quotes).
Fill in the English name of the language, and the email address or
homepage URL of the language team you are part of.
Before starting a translation, it is a good idea to get in touch with
your translation team, not only to make sure you don't do duplicated work,
but also to coordinate difficult linguistic issues.
In the Free Translation Project, each translation team has its own mailing
list. The up-to-date list of teams can be found at the Free Translation
Project's homepage, http://translationproject.org/, in the "Teams"
Fill in the language code of the language. This can be in one of three
The naming convention ‘ll_CC’ is also the way locales are
named on systems based on GNU libc. But there are three important differences:
‘ll’, an ISO 639 two-letter language code (lowercase).
See section A Language Codes for the list of codes.
‘ll_CC’, where ‘ll’ is an ISO 639 two-letter
language code (lowercase) and ‘CC’ is an ISO 3166 two-letter
country code (uppercase). The country code specification is not redundant:
Some languages have dialects in different countries. For example,
‘de_AT’ is used for Austria, and ‘pt_BR’ for Brazil. The country
code serves to distinguish the dialects. See section A Language Codes and
section B Country Codes for the lists of codes.
‘ll_CC@variant’, where ‘ll’ is an
ISO 639 two-letter language code (lowercase), ‘CC’ is an
ISO 3166 two-letter country code (uppercase), and ‘variant’ is
a variant designator. The variant designator (lowercase) can be a script
designator, such as ‘latin’ or ‘cyrillic’.
So, if your locale name is ‘de_DE.UTF-8’, the language specification in
PO files is just ‘de’.
In this PO file field, but not in locale names, ‘ll_CC’
combinations denoting a language's main dialect are abbreviated as
‘ll’. For example, ‘de’ is equivalent to ‘de_DE’
(German as spoken in Germany), and ‘pt’ to ‘pt_PT’ (Portuguese as
spoken in Portugal) in this context.
In this PO file field, suffixes like ‘.encoding’ are not used.
In this PO file field, variant designators that are not relevant to message
translation, such as ‘@euro’, are not used.
Replace ‘CHARSET’ with the character encoding used for your language,
in your locale, or UTF-8. This field is needed for correct operation of the
msgfmt programs, as well as for users whose
locale's character encoding differs from yours (see section 11.2.4 How to specify the output character set
You get the character encoding of your locale by running the shell command
‘locale charmap’. If the result is ‘C’ or ‘ANSI_X3.4-1968’,
which is equivalent to ‘ASCII’ (= ‘US-ASCII’), it means that your
locale is not correctly configured. In this case, ask your translation
team which charset to use. ‘ASCII’ is not usable for any language
Because the PO files must be portable to operating systems with less advanced
internationalization facilities, the character encodings that can be used
are limited to those supported by both GNU
libc and GNU
libiconv. These are:
In the GNU system, the following encodings are frequently used for the
When single quote characters or double quote characters are used in
translations for your language, and your locale's encoding is one of the
ISO-8859-* charsets, it is best if you create your PO files in UTF-8
encoding, instead of your locale's encoding. This is because in UTF-8
the real quote characters can be represented (single quote characters:
U+2018, U+2019, double quote characters: U+201C, U+201D), whereas none of
ISO-8859-* charsets has them all. Users in UTF-8 locales will see the
real quote characters, whereas users in ISO-8859-* locales will see the
vertical apostrophe and the vertical double quote instead (because that's
what the character set conversion will transliterate them to).
To enter such quote characters under X11, you can change your keyboard
mapping using the
Afrikaans, Albanian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Cornish, Danish, Dutch,
English, Estonian, Faroese, Finnish, French, Galician, German,
Greenlandic, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Malay, Manx,
Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Uzbek,
Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak,
ISO-8859-3 for Maltese,
ISO-8859-5 for Macedonian, Serbian,
ISO-8859-6 for Arabic,
ISO-8859-7 for Greek,
ISO-8859-8 for Hebrew,
ISO-8859-9 for Turkish,
ISO-8859-13 for Latvian, Lithuanian, Maori,
ISO-8859-14 for Welsh,
Basque, Catalan, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Irish,
Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Walloon,
KOI8-R for Russian,
KOI8-U for Ukrainian,
KOI8-T for Tajik,
CP1251 for Bulgarian, Belarusian,
for simplified writing of Chinese,
for traditional writing of Chinese,
EUC-JP for Japanese,
EUC-KR for Korean,
TIS-620 for Thai,
GEORGIAN-PS for Georgian,
UTF-8 for any language, including those listed above.
xmodmap program. The X11 names of the quote
characters are "leftsinglequotemark", "rightsinglequotemark",
"leftdoublequotemark", "rightdoublequotemark", "singlelowquotemark",
Note that only recent versions of GNU Emacs support the UTF-8 encoding:
Emacs 20 with Mule-UCS, and Emacs 21. As of January 2001, XEmacs doesn't
support the UTF-8 encoding.
The character encoding name can be written in either upper or lower case.
Usually upper case is preferred.
Set this to
This field is optional. It is only needed if the PO file has plural forms.
You can find them by searching for the ‘msgid_plural’ keyword. The
format of the plural forms field is described in section 11.2.6 Additional functions for plural forms and
section 12.6 Translating plural forms.
Go to the first, previous, next, last section, table of contents.