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Having Different Source Content Across Languages
Having Different Source Content Across Languages

Discover the best practices for handling content that varies across different target languages.

Antonis Mylonas avatar
Written by Antonis Mylonas
Updated over a week ago

In most localization projects, a source language file (say, English) is used to translate into other languages. The English file will have 100 specific phrases, and all other languages will have those 100 phrases translated. Some cases need a more advanced method of localization, where the source content changes depending on the target language.

The most frequent case is when your content is very different between languages. For example, you talk about your product generically on your Global homepage. Still, on the French version of your homepage, you show the Eiffel Tower and have a new paragraph talking about the beautiful cafés of Paris.

Another case, slightly different but with a similar solution, is when you want to change your content depending on the segmentation of your users. For example, you may want to say "Hey there, John!" to your users with ages 10-25, "Hi John" for ages 25-50, and "Hello John" to the ones above 50.

You have several ways to tackle these issues.

"Fork" the page in French

After creating the page in English, you can copy it as a new page in your CMS and translate it. Then, add the content specific to French. Done! (In this case, you need people to directly create the content in French (e.g., a French marketing person).

This is the most straightforward approach with the cost of unmanageable future edits. The French page now has its own content. If something changes on the English page, it'd be hard to apply those changes on the French page since it's now its own page with its own source content.

Different source files depending on the target language

In this case, you can author two English pages (in English): one targeting everyone and another targeting the French audience. The latter's content will still be in English since it's easier for you to write content in English. Now, you have two different source files. The second one has an additional paragraph mentioning the Eiffel Tower.

Now, you can localize the first file in all languages except French and the second file only to French.

In Transifex, you can save these two files as two different resources or two whole different projects. We recommend the latter since you can add more files than the one we discussed.

Combine everything in one master English file

You can create one master English file which contains the union of phrases from all languages. That means phrases common between all languages and those specific to French.

This is a simple solution, often easy to code. Developers might include all phrases in the code and collect them in a single file. This approach's challenge is that the source language file is more complex, the flow of content is lost, and translators will probably get confused.


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