Merry Christmas According to Language Code

Posted on Posted in Interesting translaton topics, Translation quality

What is a language codes and what do you use a language code for? In the language world, there is a standard set of international codes used by linguists that has been set forth by the standard ISO 639 to define what language a document has been translated into. This standard consists of six supplimentary standards consisting of language codes made up of two, three and four letters in addition to guidelines on how they are to be used. In most cases, the codes derive from the language’s native name it is referred to by speakers of the language, but this is not always the case as can be seen in the list of language abbreviations at the end of this article.

Upon translating a document, common practice is to add the appropriate abbreviation to the translated document. By doing this, a general level of organisation can be achieved when carrying out translation projects, especially with regard to complex multilingual translation projects.  To present an example of this, upon opening a folder containing the delivery files of a project where a document has been translated into several languages, you might expect the following file names or something along these lines:

  1. filename_ar.docx (translated into Arabic)
  2. filename_de.docx (translated into German)
  3. filename_fr.docx (translated into French)
  4. filename_hi.docx (translated into Hindi)

Please keep in mind that the naming of files may be much more complex within your organization depending on the configuration management strategy is use. If you are unfamiliar with the word configuration management, please see my article on configuration management on this blog.

In order to present a short introduction into this system of language codes, here is a list of the 2-letter abbreviation system according to ISO 639-1 with added spirit for the holidays, wishing all readers of this blog all the best for this holiday season. Please note that this list of language codes is by no means complete, although it includes some of the most common languages. In each column, you will see the language code, the language and that little something for the holiday season.

Code:    Language:         Natives call it:           Holiday Translation:
en           English                  English                            Merry Christmas
af            Afrikaans              Afrikaans                        Gesëende Kersfees
sq           Albanian                Shqip                               Gezur Krislinjden
ar           Arabic                    Al arabiyah                      عيد ميلاد مجيد
bn          Bengali                   Bangla                              শুভ বড়দিন
bg          Bulgarian               bălgarski ezik                  Честита Коледа
cs           Czech                     čeština                              Vesele Vianoce
zh          Chinese                  zhōngwén                        圣诞快乐
da          Danish                   Dansk                               Glædelig Jul
de          German                Deutsch                            Fröhliche Weihnachten
el           Greek                    Ellīniká                             Καλά Χριστούγεννα
eo          Esperanto             Esperanto                         Gajan Kristnaskon
et           Estonian               eesti keel                           Rõõmsaid Jõule
fi            Finnish                 suomi                                 Hyvää Joulua
fr            French                 français                              Joyeux Noël
hr           Croatian              hrvatski                              Sretan Božić
hu          Hungarian           magyar                               Boldog Karácsonyt
hi           Hindi                    Hindi                                   शुभ क्रिसमस
is            Icelandic              Íslenska                              Gleðileg jól
it            Italian                   Italiano                              Buon Natale
ja            Japanese              Nihongo                            メリークリスマス
lv            Latvian                latviešu                              Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus
lt            Lithuanian           lietuvių                               Linksmų Kalėdų
mk         Macedonian        makedonski jazik              Sreken Bozik
mt          Maltese               Malti                                   Il-Milied it-Tajjeb
nl           Dutch                   Nederlands                        Vrolijk kerstfeest
no          Norwegian           Norsk                                 Gledelig Jul
pt           Portugese            português                         Feliz Natal
pl           Polish                    język polski                      Wesolych Swiat
ro           Romanian            română                             Sărbători fericite
ru           Russian                russkij yazyk                   C Рождеством Христовым
sk           Slovak                  slovenský jazyk               Vesele Vianoce
sl            Slovenian             slovenski jezik                 Vesel božič
es           Spanish                español                              Feliz Navidad
sv           Swedish               svenska                             God Jul
th           Thai                      phasa thai                         สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส
tr            Turkish               Türkçe                               Mutlu Noeller

© 2013, Ferris Translations e.U. All rights reserved.