websites in multiple languages
Do you think the internet is in English? Or French, Arabic, Tibetan? No, it’s in all languages, a true polyglot. But that doesn’t mean your site needs to be a Tower of Babel.
Let’s put it this way: if your site is in one and only one langauge, you’re cutting yourself off from everyone who doesn’t surf in that langauge.
You have two choices: either stick with one language and limit your site’s reach or translate all or part of your site to one or more additional languages. Obviously if you’re targeting a specific market or region, the choice of what language(s) to incorporate is obvious. Or you can look at your web traffic and react to what regions are surfing your site with their browsers set to what languages, in affect chasing your surfers.
The best way to translate a site is to localise it. This involves not only translating the words but making it culturally coherent. This may mean embracing metric measurements, different numerical punctuation, currency conversion, etc.
Ideally you want to find native speakers to translate your content who have some familiarity with the subject matter. Fiverr is a good place to search for reasonably priced translators. The alternative is to use machine translation. Google Translate is my favorite. I tend to feed Google Translate relatively simplistic material without puns, figures of speech, colloquialisms, etc.
Here are some ideas: Feed the same text into two or more translation sites and use the ones that are the most different. Variety in the form of a shotgun approach. Another idea is to rewrite your content twice, resulting in three slightly different versions. Feed each version into a different translator.
Be sure to use the correct language tags in your HTML to insure that the page is displayed correctly.
For languages like Arabic and Persian that read right to left, use: