What are the languages iPhone supports for localization?

Languages iphone supports in iOS

UPDATED: January 30, 2017: We’ve got a full table of iOS languages and language codes to remove all the guess work!

UPDATED: May 3, 2012: Apple added 10 new languages! This post has been brought up to date.

Apple has already increased the languages iPhone supports to over 30 as of iOS 5.x:40 as of iOS 9:

English (US), British English, Australian English, Indian English, French, French Canadian, Italian, Spanish, Spanish (Mexico), Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Catalan, Croatian,  German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian (Bokmål), Russian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Croatian, Romanian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Traditional Chinese, Traditional Chinese (Hong Kong), Simplified Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Thai, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, and Malay.

Developers often ask which languages iPhone supports, but more critically, which languages should they support in their own iPhone apps? Obviously supporting all of Apple’s language choices above is costly and time-consuming, so you want to begin with the largest markets. An even more important consideration is that you’ll only be able to market your app effectively in the languages supported by App Store.

Yep, the iTunes App Store supports a different set of languages than the iPhone itself. Continue reading “What are the languages iPhone supports for localization?”

Localizing Twitter vocabulary like “Follow” and “Tweet”

Localizing Twitter vocabulary and "words"How does the world say Tweet?

UPDATED: We’ve added lots more Twitter vocabulary and more languages in our iOS Localization Term Glossary!

Facebook succeeded in turning “Likes” into a noun and simultaneously revolutionized the speed at which we build social relationships and destroy grammar. What about Twitter?

Twitter has also introduced new “words” into English. Even for native speakers it is difficult to know how to use them. Stephen Colbert famously “twatted,” but the more popular past tense of “tweet” has settled upon “tweeted.”

For translators and localization engineers, words like “Follow” have become important for many applications. Instead of watching a discussion, we now follow it. But how should we translate Follow into the rest of the world’s languages?


Here is a glossary of the most common Twitter vocabulary localized into some of the languages Twitter currently supports. This “cheat sheet” will be helpful for translators localizing websites and apps that want to maintain consistency with Twitter terms.

Twitter Glossary

(verbs/buttons) (verbs) (nouns/lists)
Spanish Seguir
Dejar de seguir
French Suivre
Se désabonner
Italian Segui
Smetti di seguire
Portuguese Seguir
Deixar de Seguir
Russian (Твиттер) Читать
Japanese (ツイッター) フォロー
Korean (트위터) 팔로우
Chinese (Simplified) 关注
Chinese (Traditional) 關注

Will tweet for food

This glossary was created by reading through Twitter’s pages in the target languages, but they aren’t perfect. There are cases where one Twitterism might work, and others where local grammar or common sense precludes a term. For example, note that “following” in English is translated in at least two ways for some languages, depending on whether it is the button (“I am following”), or a list of users you are following.

Use the comments to help keep this list updated. I’ll add any languages you need.

What’s wrong with a factory translation (“cloud translation”)?

Factory or online?

One question I’m often asked by software developers is why they should go with an independent translator or indie translation provider instead of the “big guys”—traditional agencies—or factory translation companies like icanlocalize or mygengo.

I can think of a million reasons, but here are my TOP 5

  1. Quality. Doing an outstanding job is everything to us. It’s our reputation and our livelihood.
  2. Accountability. When issues crop up—and they do in complex localizations—you can bet that an independent translator will listen to the problem and help you find a resolution instead of passing the buck.
  3. One price doesn’t fit all. If you think that all translations can be reduced to a single per-word rate, you’re fooling yourself. Factory translation companies make money with add-on pricing: it looks cheap but you end up paying more and more to get the quality you deserved in the first place. You always get what you pay for.
  4. Answers. Unless your question is listed in an FAQ, chances are a factory translation company won’t bother to help you. Indie translators will—every time.
  5. Because you care. You care about your software. You put a lot of work into it and you genuinely want people around the world to use it. Why would you trust your baby to a website?

How do today’s cloud translation companies compare?

Click to enlarge

The death of Traditional Agencies

I don’t talk a lot about traditional agencies, because honestly there isn’t a lot to say. They are outmoded and outclassed in the localization world: high prices, low quality and response time, and problems handling new localization formats. They don’t “get” software and they never will.

Your translation questions
Independent Translators Factory (“cloud”) translations Traditional Agencies
Are the translators good? We’ve been working together for years. We do random checks, just like at the airport. Yes, and we replace them periodically with lower wage ones.
Who manages my project? The translator. An algorithm. A rotating menagerie of low-paid, overworked “coordinators”
Do you use a smartphone? For work and play. We see money! BlackBerry FTW!
Do you know what a Localizable.strings file is? “Yes” = “Sí, señor!”; Parse error. “Sí” = “Sí”.
Are you obsessive about quality? Always. Depends how much you pay. We’ll offer a discount on your next translation instead.
Personal one-on-one service? Email me right now. I dare you. How about one-on-zero? It depends how long before your coordinator quits.
Fast answers? Lightening fast. Did you read our FAQ? Let me get back to you.
Localization advice? Ask us anything. Did you read our FAQ? Let me get back to you.
Can I add new languages? We’re always ready for more. Did you read our FAQ? Yes, we make more that way.
Any format? If it’s got strings, we’ve got translations. Did you read our FAQ? Let me get back to you.


Tell me in the comments!

How much does website localization cost?

You have a website, and you have grown beyond just English speakers loving your content and buying your products. You want the whole world—or at least a few more amigos and comrades—to benefit from what you do.

Website localization is the answer, and website localization costs have never been lower. Let me explain how website localization costs are calculated and how to save money on localization for your site.

How to calculate website localization costs

Here is the simple formula:

Cost $.$$ = words x price-per-language

No matter which website localization company you go with, the bottom line depends upon how much text you have and which languages you choose. A solid number for budgeting purposes is $0.15/word, although the price will vary depending on the language, the complexity, and the services you need.

This will save you money.

Determining the word count of your website will quickly help you budget your project. You can paste your website texts into Microsoft Word and use its “Word Count” feature (available in the Tools menu) to get a fair idea of the size of your website localization project. Delete anything that is duplicated, like headers and footers and menus. This exercise will also force you to decide which pages of your website you want to localize. Often there is no need to translate everything.

In fact, there hardly ever is a good reason to translate everything. I always suggest localizing only the pages you expect a foreign audience to read. If you look at the localizations of the Babble-on site (www.ibabbleon.com), which is already in 12 languages, we chose to translate only the pages that a foreign audience would read. In our case, these were pages about translation services and copywriting in English. You certainly want your product and checkout pages translated, but perhaps your job listings and Help texts can wait. Cutting down the word count is the single best way to lower localization costs.

This will save you even more.

One of the most time consuming parts of website localization is not translation. It is making sure all the translated text appears in the right places in the HTML document. That is why it is important to go with a website localization company that understands the process. If you have your webmaster deal with inputting the files, you may save some money (unless your webmaster charges you by the hour). However, having the translator do this inputting helps ensure everything is put in the right place.

At Babble-on we use the latest website localization tools to make this process fast and accurate, and we pass the savings on to our clients. Make sure your preferred translator does the same.

Beyond budget


Localization is no easy task, and you want translators that are professional and knowledgable, ones that will tell you when something will be misinterpreted or misunderstood in their language. Besides budget, be sure to go with someone you trust and you can talk to any time and receive honest feedback. Check Yelp or other online reviews. Localization, after all, is not simply translation, but adapting text to a new audience with different sensitivities and needs.

Getting your site localized can be one of the best things you ever do for your business. It is relatively inexpensive and—assuming users in another country (or speaking another language in your own country)—are interested in what you do, you’ll gain back your investment tenfold in the long-run.


In which I explain how the word choice of developers affects translation and localization

Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many developers, some of them who have zealously taken it upon themselves to reinvent English grammar, design new forms of syntax and lexicon, or otherwise abuse the English language into a petrified shell of its former self. We all do this to some extent, and, in many cases, these developers have good reason to do so. However, translation and localization of anything other than the Queen’s English has its difficulties for users and translators alike.

These are some common issues we face as translators that developers are advised to keep in mind.

* As a disclaimer, these issues stem from translating English into other languages; using another source language would present yet other issues.

Word choice, not word AnythingYouLikeItToBe-ify!

Not a word, not a sentence — I care a lot about accuracy in translation, so one of the biggest show-stoppers for me is what we call the “untranslatable” phrases. Usually, this is stuff creative programmers and marketing gurus have pulled from out of their proverbial “backend,” and inevitably involves multiple words pushed together into one. Here I’m talking about things like:

  • SuperSelectiveSync
  • Re-undelete
  • Mysticgel

Unless you are Goethe, it is not recommended to combine multiple words into SuperAwesomeWords, even if you capitalize each one. Translators won’t know whether they should repeat your Germanization of the user interface, why it was done in the first place, and in some languages (Chinese, Arabic, etc.) it is not possible to do anyway. One typical resolution is to translate literally (i.e. “Sync that is very selective; Undo the delete command again”), but this often leads to confusing or just plain incorrect translations (“jelly of magic”?). This literal decoupling of words also results in very long translations that, in the English version, may have been purposefully shortened for whatever reason. Continue reading “In which I explain how the word choice of developers affects translation and localization”

What languages are worth localizing your app into?

Another question from Quora:

What languages are worth localizing your app into?

Babble-on localizes iOS apps and software on a regular basis. What I’ve learned from companies doing it is that they aren’t just guessing. Here are some ways to help you decide which language(s) to localize in:

Go where your users are
For iOS App Store projects, you can look in iTunes Connect to determine where your app is gaining traction. For example, you may see a spike in downloads from Italy — that tells you that localizing into Italian is going to get you even more users, even if Italian is not the most widely spoken language on Earth.

Go where your users will be
Another example is a company that has a good idea for an app that will sell abroad. A client of ours had a beautiful app that showed tranquil background scenes and it was a hit in various countries (so he applied rule #1 and translated into the appropriate languages). However, he then had the idea that a “cherry blossom” scene would do well in Japan. He had us translate the app into Japanese. He was right — he knew users in that country would love it, and they did.

Go for the big ones (that pay)
China has a huge market and translating into Chinese is tempting — but only if you really feel users will PAY for your app there. Otherwise, you are always better going with the most popular: Spanish, French, German, Portuguese (Brazil is a surprisingly good market). Other big localization markets are Japanese and Russian (but again, Russia like China, may not yield paying customers).

One last factor to keep in mind is that simply translating your App Store description can get you a lot of users. It’s cheap to do and has a good result. If your app is not heavy with text, even trying multiple languages won’t cost you a lot.

The return on investment can be huge.