Develop your Magento Store in Multiple Languages with Magento Translate System

If you want a single website (read store) to appear in multiple languages while using Magento, Magento translate system is your answer. You can have a new store view or setup a new store to incorporate this system.

Go to System>Manage Stores>Create new store/store view/website

Here go to system>configuration>general>locale and then set the language you want to have the store in.

You can setup translations either by using translation csv files or with inline translate feature. If you want to use the translation csv files you will need to visit the path app/locale/en_US. You can introduce translational files for the respective languages. You can add the translational files for a particular language. You will need to define the translational file you need to use for a particular module in the config.xml file


You will need to define a translate file to the adminhtml area. Translate files are also located in the following path

You can enable the inline translate feature along the following path System -> Configuration -> Advanced -> Developer -> Translate Inline

Translate System with Custom Modules and Themes

If you want to enable the translate files for custom modules and themes, you will need to use the function _(..);

echo __(‘Having Fun?’);
echo __(‘Having Fun? %s’,’Ya’);
echo __(‘Having Fun? %s %d’,’Ya’,date(‘h’));

This function is made available in .phtml files, block files, controllers as well as helper files.

You can even use translation in configuration files

<checkout translate=”label” module=”checkout”>

Getting Deeper

How does Magento work on translations? Here are two files that it uses for translations

Here’s how function “_()” can be defined
public function __()
$args = func_get_args();
$expr = new Mage_Core_Model_Translate_Expr(array_shift($args), $this->getModuleName());
array_unshift($args, $expr);
return $this->_getApp()->getTranslator()->translate($args);

The definition is located within

With this the translate function is called upon    within the Mage_Core_Model_Translate
The init() function initializes the translations

Step 1: _LoadModuleTranslation
foreach ($this->getModulesConfig() as $moduleName=>$info) {
$info = $info->asArray();
$this->_loadModuleTranslation($moduleName, $info[‘files’], $forceReload);
protected function _loadModuleTranslation($moduleName, $files, $forceReload=false)
foreach ($files as $file) {
$file = $this->_getModuleFilePath($moduleName, $file);
$this->_addData($this->_getFileData($file), $moduleName, $forceReload);
return $this;
protected function _getModuleFilePath($module, $fileName)
$file = Mage::getBaseDir(‘locale’);
$file.= DS.$this->getLocale().DS.$fileName;
return $file;

Step 2: _LoadThemeTranslation

protected function _loadThemeTranslation($forceReload = false)
$file = Mage::getDesign()->getLocaleFileName(‘translate.csv’);
$this->_addData($this->_getFileData($file), false, $forceReload);
return $this;

Step 3: LoadDBTranslation();

protected function _loadDbTranslation($forceReload = false)
$arr = $this->getResource()->getTranslationArray(null, $this->getLocale());
$this->_addData($arr, $this->getConfig(self::CONFIG_KEY_STORE), $forceReload);
return $this;

Step 4: addData()
protected function _addData($data, $scope, $forceReload=false)
foreach ($data as $key => $value) {
if ($key === $value) {
$key    = $this->_prepareDataString($key);
$value  = $this->_prepareDataString($value);
if ($scope && isset($this->_dataScope[$key]) && !$forceReload ) {
* Checking previos value
$scopeKey = $this->_dataScope[$key] . self::SCOPE_SEPARATOR . $key;
if (!isset($this->_data[$scopeKey])) {
if (isset($this->_data[$key])) {
$this->_data[$scopeKey] = $this->_data[$key];
* Not allow use translation not related to module
if (Mage::getIsDeveloperMode()) {
$scopeKey = $scope . self::SCOPE_SEPARATOR . $key;
$this->_data[$scopeKey] = $value;
else {
$this->_data[$key]     = $value;
$this->_dataScope[$key]= $scope;
return $this;

Step 5: Translate the String
protected function _getTranslatedString($text, $code)
$translated = ”;
if (array_key_exists($code, $this->getData())) {
$translated = $this->_data[$code];
elseif (array_key_exists($text, $this->getData())) {
$translated = $this->_data[$text];
else {
$translated = $text;
return $translated;

Working with Magento

Mage_Core_Model_Locale is the class that you will need to concern with. You will find all the locale and currency within this class

Emulate and revert are the two important functions of this class

Emulate Function
public function emulate($storeId)
if ($storeId) {
$this->_emulatedLocales[] = clone $this->getLocale();
$this->_locale = new Zend_Locale(Mage::getStoreConfig(self::XML_PATH_DEFAULT_LOCALE, $storeId));
$this->_localeCode = $this->_locale->toString();
Mage::getSingleton(‘core/translate’)->setLocale($this->_locale)->init(‘frontend’, true);
else {
$this->_emulatedLocales[] = false;

Revert Function
public function revert()
if ($locale = array_pop($this->_emulatedLocales)) {
$this->_locale = $locale;
$this->_localeCode = $this->_locale->toString();
Mage::getSingleton(‘core/translate’)->setLocale($this->_locale)->init(‘adminhtml’, true);

You can undo the effect of emulate function with the revert function. While emulate function is responsible for loading the frontend, revert function is responsible for loading admin html area.


While this system has a minor bug that you will need to ensure is taken into account while development or testing of the site, this system helps get a multi language website on a single website. You can seek translations whenever it is needed, and help the user view the website in their language.

Note: A backup is essential before you proceed with this coding and modification.

Author Bio:

Deepa is a passionate blogger associated with Silver Touch Technologies., a leading Magento Development UK. She recommends checking out Magento Development Services at If you are looking to hire Magento Developer UK then just get in touch with her.

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