First of all: some clarification is due about the terminology. As I mentioned in one of my first posts I chose WP beacuse I loved “the possibility of writing in different languages, with different alphabets without having to think for a moment about charset, encoding and all that stuff that made my life miserable when administering a CMS and every author needed a different charset”. This is true even today, since WP can do this, however my demands and wishes have been grown bigger.
For me multilingual now means having posts in more than one language. (Still doable.) Additionally, to have the user interface [the menu items on the right; the post meta: filed under etc.] changed when somebody selects to read an article in another language. I would also like to switch to another language version of the post – if it exists and, finally, to have a “language switcher/picker” button that would bring up only the posts written in that language, with the translated interface, of course.
What is not multilingual for me is having a button to make a “machine translation” of the whole content of the site (blog). It doesn’t really work for small languages or, better to say, the possibility is inexistent, plus it is very inaccurate. For a professional ex-translator and interpreter like myself, it’s simply inadmissible. I have to admit though it might be helpful to get a vague idea what a site is about.
There have been several attempts to make the multilingual blogging a reality. Probably I am not aware of every multilingual blog out there, but since the time I became involved closely with WordPress I was closely following some of them.
I remember the langauge picker plugin (the site is down for a long time, do not click on the link, I put it here just for documentation purposes). Unfortunately I didn’t download it when it was available.
I also noticed two bloggers, Chris and Stephanie, both of them very interested in multilingual blogging, and having implemented some kind of multilingual functionality on their blogs – though in different manner. They also have several interesting language related articles and good ideas about multilingual blogging.
Later came malyfred with his Polyglot plugin. It was based on the Language Picker but brought a lot of enhancements. Seemingly the plugin is very “picky” because it doesn’t work for everybody. More later about it.
And, finally, there is a very promising project by Morgan Doocy and others, still in a very pre-alpha stage. No public announcement about the progress since February.
A little bit more about the Polyglot plugin. Basically, on the author’s site it does quite everything I’d like to have on my multilingual blog. (Not this one!) I have tried to install it and make work on a WP 1.5.1 nightly, but it worked only partially. Revisiting the site and reading through the newest comments it seems there is an updated version (end of May, 2005) and some suggestions from other users to make it better. I will have to give it a try with the latest WP 188.8.131.52.
Lately there was a post in the WP Forum about a “language selector”. One WP user – nicknamed angsuman in the forum – came up with an automatic machine translation plugin as a possible solution. Driven by my “innate” aversion towards any machine translation I made a comment saying this plugin isn’t for me. I did not explain why, so consider this post as a reply to this question.