Make your UI translatable into many different languages.

If you’d like to contribute translations to Elgg, see the contributors’ guide.

The default language is en for English. Elgg uses a fallback system for languages:

  1. The language of the user
  2. The site language
  3. English


Translations are stored in PHP files in the /languages directory of your plugin. Each file corresponds to a language. The format is /languages/{language-code}.php where {language-code} is the ISO 639-1 short code for the language. For example:

<?php // mod/example/languages/en.php

return [
        'example:text' => 'Some example text',

To override an existing translation, include it in your plugin’s language file, and make sure your plugin is ordered later on the Admin > Plugins page:

<?php // mod/better_example/languages/en.php

return [
        'example:text' => 'Some better text!',


Unless you are overriding core’s or another plugin’s language strings, it is good practice for the language keys to start with your plugin name. For example: yourplugin:success, yourplugin:title, etc. This helps avoid conflicts with other language keys.

Server-side API

elgg_echo($key, $args, $language)

Output the translation of the key in the current language.


echo elgg_echo('example:text');

It also supports variable replacement using vsprintf syntax:

// 'welcome' => 'Welcome to %s, %s!'
echo elgg_echo('welcome', [

To force which language should be used for translation, set the third parameter:

echo elgg_echo('welcome', [], $user->language);

To first test whether elgg_echo() can find a translation:

$key = 'key:that:might:not:exist';
if (!elgg_language_key_exists($key)) {
        $key = 'fallback:key';

echo elgg_echo($key);


Some APIs allow creating translations for new keys. Translators should always include an English translation as a fallback. This makes elgg_language_key_exists($key) a reliable way to predict whether elgg_echo($key) will succeed.

Javascript API

elgg.echo(key, args)

This function is like elgg_echo in PHP.

Client-side translations are loaded asynchronously. Ensure translations are available by requiring the “elgg” AMD module:

define(function(require) {
        var elgg = require("elgg");


Translations are also available after the init, system JavaScript event.