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Blogging in More Than One Language

Do you blog in more than one language?

One of the problems for multi-language bloggers is the issue of switching between languages as they blog. To ease the frustration, there is a powerful WordPress Plugin called available.

Gengo is for blogging in multiple languages. It does not translate posts and users see nothing on their WordPress blogs to indicate someone is using Gengo, except that posts are available in more than one language. It works behind the scenes to help the multi-lingual blogger blog in more than one language.

According to the Gengo Demo Page:

Gengo is a multi-lingual plugin for WordPress that attempts to offer an easy to use framework for writing posts and pages in multiple languages.

To that end, it provides:

* A page to configure languages and language codes.
* The ability to mark posts as translations.
* Side by side editing of translations on the ‘Write Post’ screen.
* The ability to create summaries in multiple languages, for any post in any defined language.
* Automatic grouping of summaries by translation group.
* Side by side editing of post and summaries.
* Automatic detection and handling of all permalinks by language, for any permalink structure.
* Automatic appending of language code to WordPress category, author, archive links using existing wordpress template tags.
* Automatic switching of WordPress locale, to alter page and link headings, when used with a gettext-ready theme.
* The option to translate categories, blog title and blog description.
* Template functions to expose the language, translations, summaries and comments for a post and language-filtered page and category lists.
* Semantic markup for language blocks and links.
* Automatic installation.
* Automatic detection of a user’s language preference, by language-link, cookie or user-agent string.

The Gengo Multi-Lingual Blogger WordPress Plugin is not for the timid. It currently only works in WordPress 2.0.1 or greater.

Gengo is a WordPress Plugin and installs in a typical fashion, however, installation and use involves backing up your entire site and database for safety, and familiarity with WordPress Templates, WordPress Themes, WordPress template files, and how WordPress works. You don’t have to be an expert, but it helps to be familiar with how things work under the hood. The instructions and support on the Gengo WordPress Plugin Support Forum will also help with installation and use of Gengo.

Many have come up with neat ways of making Gengo work for them on their multi-lingual blogs, but it has been known to cause a few conflicts with other WordPress Plugins and does put a bit of extra demand upon your WordPress database. Silverstreak – Gengo Tips and Tricks and Gabriel in Brazil – Gengo Hacks feature information you might want to explore to customize Gengo.

If you blog in more than one language, Genko might be a way to make the process easier behind the scenes.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Posted September 10, 2006 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    If you have the occasional need to switch languages, another option is to use standard markup (no plugins) which is pretty self-explanatory. For example, I’ve used this syntax here to overide the default of English (as specified in the head) on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis:

    <p xml:lang="de" lang="de">Willkommen</p>

  2. Posted September 10, 2006 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Bruce. I forgot you could set language within any HTML tag. This is great.

    As a reminder for those paying attention, Bruce’s code allows you to write in another language using the character codes for that language. It doesn’t translate from one language to another for you automatically. You have to do that manually. 😉

  3. Posted September 29, 2006 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Please correct my website name with a period between persian and torqoise because I have not finished my registration process.
    I am a capable translator and wish to use more than one language. Farsi is the 2nd language of my website. I have video 25 minute films and collage archives to examine collective memory on 3 levels of:multinational/national/personal categories that I wish to share with those interested. Please give me some guidance for the development of my websites intended for participatory expermentation.

  4. Posted September 30, 2006 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand your first question.

    As for your second question, if you need help developing your website by yourself, I think you mean “promotion”, marketing your site to let people know what you are doing, right? See Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization Guide. As for designing your website, if you go with WordPress, just choose one of the more than a thousand different free WordPress Themes that matches what you want to do, and go with it.

    The plugin mentioned above should help you write in the different languages.

    If I’m not answering your question, you will need to be more specific.

  5. Steve
    Posted January 30, 2007 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    What about SEO ?

    Lorelle, do you have any idea if Gengo may impact (negatively) SE0 methods ?


  6. Posted January 30, 2007 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    There is a lot of fear around duplicate content harming pagerank with Google. Don’t worry. Foreign language translations aren’t impacting this issue. Worry more about content than SEO unless you are doing something abusive.

  7. Steve
    Posted January 31, 2007 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for your answer Lorelle.
    My question was more about the way Gengo handles traffic : it automatically sends the visitor (and the robots) to the page in the visitor’s prefered language.

    Will google index the whole site or just one language ?
    Will all the links to the domain count for the Page Rank or will they be discarded ?

  8. Posted January 31, 2007 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Again, the issue of PageRank is nothing to worry about unless you are abusing it. Translations don’t abuse or worry Google. Google will index what it finds, if your site is optimized for search engines. That’s more important to worry about.

    As for more details about the program works, having not used it myself, I recommend you contact the author and see what they have to say on the issue. I understand how Google works, but not Gengo. Good luck and focus on the content and let the PageRank business take care of itself.

  9. Posted June 22, 2007 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    This article was crutial to make me start using Gengo on my blog. Thank you!

  10. Posted October 1, 2007 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Hi there Lorelle! I currently use b2evo but this Gengo thing probably will make me swtich to WP. Thanks for the review!

  11. Posted December 1, 2007 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    This looks like it would be perfect for what I need, but gengo 0.9 doesn’t work with WordPress 2.3 yet. Some people are working on it, if you look at this thread, and the project to write a patch is here. I just thought I’d spread the word in case anyone wants to help.

  12. alex
    Posted December 29, 2007 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Is Gengo available for blogs hosted at — or would I have to be hosting my own site and install the Gengo plugin on my server?

  13. Posted December 29, 2007 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    @ alex:

    WordPress Plugins are not allowed on blogs. You can only use WordPress Plugins on self-hosted blogs.

  14. Posted February 19, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Nice! I will try gengo!
    Thanks for the tip!

  15. Posted March 6, 2008 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Dear Lorelle,

    does it also work with pages? There is not 1 good example/installation/demo to be found online.


  16. Posted March 7, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    You can ask in the forums, but I believe that Gengo allows for both. Try it. If it doesn’t work, then encode the non-English and post that on a Page. It does work with Posts, so you could put the info in a post and then copy it out of there into a Page and it would publish. The issue with blogging in different languages is browser interpretation of the character codes.

  17. Posted May 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Hey thanks for the article…This plugin looks like something I could use. I am trying to bring out my blog in German as well. Will give it a shot.

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