Language Switcher for WordPress

I’ve recently had occasion to install the Language Switcher WordPress Plugin on a website I’ve been building for my family’s Cider Mill business. The business operates in Quebec, so it was desirable to communicate with customers in both English and French. I mention the plug-in here, because the archaeological community has always been naturally multi-lingual, and it would be good if archaeological websites could reflect that multi-lingualism.

The problem with designing multilingual websites though are two fold – getting everything translated, and then managing the mass of pages, since everything needs to be duplicated, triplicated, or what have you. It can be very easy to end up with multiple trees, folders, files and complicated interlinkages between them. The Language Switcher plugin on the other hand works by treating language as just another display tag, and adding a filter to your wordpress. If the ‘English’ button is pressed, it filters the entire site so that anything written  in a post or page (including titles and categories) between [lang_en] and [/lang_en] tags is displayed in English – German would be bracketed with [lang_de] und [/lang_de] tags, etc. So one post can contain as many languages as you want, greatly simplifying the management of your site (little nation flags are included as well to use as buttons, if desired).

This could even be useful someone wanting to use their wordpress site – in conjunction with the Courseware plugin or similar – to teach languages (including Latin; I suppose it could be made to work with non-Roman alphabets too).   There are other language plugins out there, but this one worked best for me. Unfortunately, since ‘electric archaeology’ is a hosted blog courtesy of wordpress.com, I can’t add the plugin to this site.

As for translation – I read French quite well, but writing it  is quite another matter. So, in this case, I took my English text and ran it through Babble-fish and Google Translate. Then, when I read the competing versions, I could tell where things were loopy, and was able to correct them so that, although not particularly elegant, the French text read reasonably well. This is an approach that many others could take, since as academics we tend to be able to read many languages, but are only able to write fluently in a few.