From W3C Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

ITS WG Collaborative editing page

Follow the conventions for editing this page.

Status: Initial Draft ie. please focus on technical content, rather than wordsmithing at this stage.

Author: Yves Savourel

Multilingual Documents


Careful considerations must be taken when designing XML documents that include the same content in multiple languages.


Using document with content in multiple languages is quite easily done with XML, as shown below:

 <text xml:lang="en">My hovercraft is full of eels.</text>
 <text xml:lang="fr">Mon aéroglisseur est plein d'anguilles.</text>
 <text xml:lang="hu">Légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal.</text>
 <text xml:lang="ja">私のホバークラフトは鰻で一杯です。</text>
 <text xml:lang="pl">Mój poduszkowiec jest pełen węgorzy.</text>
 <text xml:lang="es">Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas.</text>
 <text xml:lang="zh-CH">我隻氣墊船裝滿晒鱔.</text>
 <text xml:lang="zh-TW">我的氣墊船充滿了鱔魚 [我的气垫船充满了鳝鱼]</text>

However, one must be careful when such kind of documents as, from the view point of localization, they may be difficult to handle for translation.

For example, when source material is provided in a multilingual document and the different translations should go in the same document, it will be difficult to do concurrent translation in all languages as the translators are likely to be different for each language. This means the document will have to be broken down into separate pairs of languages (the source and one target) and re-constructed later on, adding time, cost and an opportunity for possible errors.


Obviously, some XML documents are designed for multilingual functions, and can be used as it without problem. For example, formats such as XLIFF or TMX.

Note that multilingual documents where the different languages are for different content (e.g. a citation in German within a document in Spanish) do not have the challenges described here.