Translating our forum interface into more languages such as burmese and swahili

Our discussion platform already lets you choose your preferred language via a setting on your preferences, and soon we are going to turn on a new plugin to allow immediate inline translation of posts written in other languages into your language. This is going to make it alot more inclusive to have discussions here!

Not all languages are supported yet, however. For example, Burmese is not yet a supported language. To add it, we’d need to find translators willing to log into an online translation site and set up a Burmese translation team to translate a handful of language files into Burmese.

@lauragoodwin do you know someone you could put to this task? A volunteer or intern, perhaps?

Are there other languages we might want to prioritize adding?

Below is a screenshot to give an idea what the translation site looks like - it’s pretty nifty! And here’s a link to the site:


This is an exciting option @tobiaseigen! Several of us in the Yangon office, including @timmillar @yeyinth and @khinhtetwai have been interested in ensuring Namati’s web presence is accessible to Myanmar/Burmese speakers that don’t have strong English skills.

How long would you estimate it would take for someone to translate the “handful of language files” for Discourse? That may help us figure out who could work on this task, or if we’d want to recruit a volunteer to assist.

When inline translation of posts is available, who is providing that support? Discourse? Google Translate? Will it include Burmese language as well (without our team providing the translation support)?

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Thanks, Laura! Glad to see there is this interest.

There are two parts to this - interface language (for using the platform) and inline translation languages (to translate posts into your own language). Some details on that below.

I’m honestly not sure how much work is involved in translating the interface into another language - I will make some inquiries.

  1. Interface language. Our discussion platform supports only a handful of languages at the moment and we can contribute more languages to serve our community better. The support here is provided through translation files that are included with the code - these would be translated via transifex as explained above. Here’s the full list of currently supported languages:

Albanian|sq Arabic|ar Bosnian|bs_BA Chinese (CN)|zh_CN Chinese (TW)|zh_TW Czech|cs Danish|da Dutch|nl English|en Finnish|fi French|fr German|de Hebrew|he Indonesian|id Italian|it Japanese|ja Korean|ko Norwegian|nb_NO Persian (Farsi)|fa_IR Polish|pl_PL Portuguese (Brazil)|pt_BR Portuguese|pt Romanian|ro Russian|ru Spanish|es Swedish|sv Telugu|te Turkish|tr_TR Ukranian|uk

  1. Inline Translation languages. We are planning to use the Microsoft Translation service currently which is free for low volume use like ours, but in the future we could switch to Google. Here there is also a limit to which languages are supported - and I just realized that Burmese is not on the list of supported languages. Google Translate doesn’t support it either.

Inline translation is now up and running on our discussion platform! It’s still being tested and improved but seems very stable. To take advantage of it, change your preferred interface language in your account settings and then look for the globe icon below posts to translate.

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Do keep us updated about the need for some Burmese language assistance - if you’re able to sort out the other issues for inline translation!

Google Translate does support Burmese/Myanmar language, but especially at the start I don’t think it’s worth paying for that when Microsoft Translation supports many other common languages for free!

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Hi Laura! I requested some help with localization into Burmese over on the discourse developers forum. They can help guide us through the process if we provide the translators!

Would you be able to recruit a small team of people (2-3 is fine) who have good access to the Internet, are tech savvy enough to find their way through the very user-friendly transifex translation site, and are able to translate from English into Burmese?

The time commitment is fairly minimal - what they’d be doing is translating the interfaces which is short strings of text. Ideally these would be people willing to pitch in later as well as new plugins and features are added to discourse in the future. It’s good to have 2-3 people collaborating because they may want to review each other’s work and talk over translations they are not sure about.

As a next step after this we can look at switching to Google Translate as well as adding functionality to manually improve translations, so that we can in future do a much better job supporting any strategically important language. The Myanmar team can help with this on an ongoing basis, directly through our discourse platform.

We have lift off! Now just need Burmese translators to log into transifex and start translating! :slight_smile:

Continuing the discussion from Request for help with Localization into Burmese:

Great! I’ll let @timmillar @yeyinth and @Goonnan take it from here… the team is busy with new partners in preparation for upcoming paralegal trainings, but I’m sure they can coordinate a couple team members to chip away at the translations over the next couple of weeks!


yay! that will be wonderful. I also promoted this on twitter and it’s possible some other folks will pitch in to make the interface localization happen.

Following up on an email exchange with @caitlinpierce, it would be great if one or more members in Myanmar could team up with me to localize our discussion platform into Burmese. This essentially will allow people to use the site, which is powered by software called discourse, in their own language.

How to do it:

  1. Set up a free account:
  2. Open this page:
  3. Start translating!

If you have questions or need further guidance, just ask me here or join the following topic I started on the discourse support forum (which also requires a free account):

I would like that you put Afrikaans as one of the languages who need online translation. We have a variety of cultures in South Africa and languages and based on that is it for me from utmost importance to accommodate others. We have many cultures and languages and it will be wonderful to address communities in a language that they understand. To communicate with you in your language is not only to show respect that one have for your language but also for your culture.

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@mustafa_mahmoud in case you are interested, there is someone working on translating discourse into kiswahili, to make it available as one of the supported interface languages. If you know anyone in Kenya who might like to join this initiative, you can let them know.

Sorry, @SophiaBooysen, that your response here went unanswered. I think I responded privately back then. How have you been in the meantime? I trust well. Our forum has grown quite a bit since you wrote that post but Afrikaans is still not a supported language here unfortunately.

Providing support to more languages is a big priority for Namati but we are also are a small team and have limited capacity. The network team has some strategic goals around the spread of membership around the world, so are prioritizing Spanish, Portuguese and French for the moment but will gladly provide support as interest bubbles up from other language communities. For example, we could start a forum category for discussion in Afrikaans if enough people want to write in that language.

Meanwhile, the open source forum software we use, called Discourse, is also going from strength to strength. It supports many interface languages out of the box and as more interface languages are added to the software, we make them available to network members. I explained how this works at the top. Again, Afrikaans is not yet an officially supported language by Discourse but if you know people who are interested and able to provide translation for the software, we can get that working here too. But it is a bit of a technical process and takes a concerted effort.

It all starts here:

Hi @tobiaseigen I can do some oversight but my Kiswahili is not that perfect I don’t think I will do it justice.

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Thanks! Also let me know if you know anyone else in Kenya who might be interested in helping. It’s an interesting case because it’s a language we care about and someone else is already working on it and asking for help.

We can invite some of the Haki centre staff like @amoory and @AndrewOchola


@mustafa_mahmoud it can be done on simple swahili


Sure. There is no need to write in Swahili sanifu as not everyone speaks such pure Swahili not unless in Tz :wink:


According to the translation page on transifex, there are 4,716 “strings” of text to translate to make our forum interface available in a new language. Swahili is 13.5% there and this is what Irwin Binamungu is working on and can probably use help with. Let me know if you want an introduction to him.


Separately from this, there is the automatic translation of post content itself - you can write in whatever swahili you like and then microsoft will try to translate it for the rest of us when we click on the translate button below your post when you write in a language other than our chosen interface language (looks like a globe). Feel free to try it! :slight_smile:

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@mustafa_mahmoud I am actually from Tz, so if it so happens that the swahili is not Sanifu…i will correct it. Any help is welcome since we still have many strings to translate. @tobiaseigen thank you for appreciating my hard work, more people will really help to translate this platform faster…