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How to Change the Wordpress Default Language

Updated on June 18, 2013
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For anyone thinking of starting a blog, WordPress is an excellent choice of blogging system. This free and open source blogging tool is the most popular on the web. It is relatively easy to install and once it is up and running, it is easy to use. The high level of functionality makes WordPress a very popular system which is used all over the world.

The default language of WordPress is US English. However, if you want to use WordPress in a different language, changing the default language is not difficult. Let's take a look at exactly how to do that. Here's a step-by-step guide.

Download Installation File

You can find the correct files for the language of your choice at the WordPress site. The site includes links to pages for a range of countries from Afrikaans to Welsh. An active open-source community help enable such a range of languages.

If you wanted to use WordPress using Spanish as spoken in Spain, you would head to the WordPress Español page. From there, you can download the whole version of WordPress in Spanish. If you just want to use a translation on an English version of Spanish, you need to find one file included in the package you download.

The file you need will have a name such as 'es_ES.mo'

The first two small characters (es) are the ISEO-639 language code. They are followed by the ISO-3166 country code (_ES for Spain).

The file for the Spanish language is named 'es_Es.mo.' Obviously, your file will be different if you are using a different language, but the format will be the same.

Upload File to WordPress

The next thing you do is upload the file ('es.ES.mo' for Spanish) to your WordPress installation. The file needs to be copied to the '/wp-content/languages/' directory of your WordPress installation. If your version of WordPress is the default English installation, you may have to create the 'languages' directory.

Change wp-config.php File

In the root directory of your WordPress installation is a file with the name ‘wp-config.php’. This file includes all of the setting to allow you to connect to the database and manage a few other items.

Download this file and open it up with a text editor.

Look for the lines:

define ('WPLANG', '');

You need to change this to use the file you just uploaded to your server. If you were changing the language to Spanish, for example, you would change it to:

define ('WPLANG', 'es_ES');

Go Take a Look at Your Admin Dashboard

That's pretty much all there is to it. If you look at the admin dashboard of your WordPress site in a browser, it should now display in the language of your choice.

Don't Forget

  • Although there are quite a range of languages available, your language may not be listed on the official WordPress page. If that is the case, you can also check the WordPress Language File Repository.
  • There are various WordPress plugins available which you can use to create bilingual posts, translations and change languages between posts.

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