How To: Tagging Content with the HTML5 Translate Attribute

So far, the HTML5 translate attribute isn’t making any big waves in the localization world but we think it is a great step forward for localization standards across the web. Plus, it is a useful attribute (so, naturally, Smartling supports it).

HTML5 Translate Attribute

Added to HTML5 in February, the translate attribute allows for “tagging” content that should or should not be translated. This means you can mark certain words or phrases to avoid translation, like a company name or industry-specific term, by adding translate with a value of “no” to the HTML markup:<p>You can’t buy an apple at <span translate=”no”>Apple</span>.</p>This is a great tool to “hide” specific words from machine translation services like Google Translate or Bing Translators. But this markup is also useful for human translation (either professional or volunteer) because it aids in clarifying what should and what should not be translated. Context goes a long way with human translators but there are situations where there still won’t be enough contextual information, like content that references untranslated text on a physical product:<p>Press the <span translate=”no”>GO</span> button on the panel.</p>You can also use the translate attribute to signal when a word or phrase should be translated by changing the value (translate=”yes”) but this is a less likely use case.

Localization Standards

The translate attribute is the work of the MultilingualWeb-LT Working Group which aims to define “meta-data for web content (mainly HTML5) and deep Web content, for example a CMS or XML file from which HTML pages are generated, that facilitates its interaction with multilingual technologies and localization processes.”So far, translate is the only attribute added to HTML5 but there is a long list of proposed meta-data. Plus, the group is calling for participants to join in on developing translation standards for HTML5, so future localization attributes are probable. Currently, the MultilingualWeb-LT Group is working on integrating the new attribute into the localization industry.The growing interest in and demand for localization features in the internet industry is good news – especially for the 74% of internet users that don’t speak English natively. With localization becoming a requirement for a number of companies and organizations, there should be more multilingual content in the near future, and with innovative localization software like Smartling supporting standards set by the W3C, localization will be a pain-free process.

About Team Smartling

Smartling is a software company with the mission to make the world’s content multilingual.