Terry's TMG Tips

Selecting and Editing Languages

This page created 5 May 2006

Version note: Applies to TMG 8 & 9

This article discusses the standard Languages shipped with TMG, and how they are selected or edited. It also describes how custom Languages can be created.

Other articles, listed on the main Languages page, or linked in appropriate places below, provide more detail on related features.

Topics Included in this Article
Supplied Languages Languages supplied with the program
Custom Languages Why you might want a custom language
User Interface Setting the language used in your program screens
Creating Languages How to create your own language
Editing Languages How to edit the supplied or a custom language

Supplied Languages

As this is written, TMG ships with eleven languages:

  • Afrikaans
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English (U.K.) - Default language for the UK edition
  • English (U.S.) - The program's "Standard" language
  • English2 - Editable copy of English (U.S.)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Norwegian - Bokmål
  • Norwegian2 - Nynorsk

Wholly Genes represents that the translations to languages other than English are a "work-in-progress" and notes that when phrases that have not been translated are encountered, those messages will be seen in English. Also, the Help feature and official support is available only in English, though there are user groups and other efforts underway to support users in other languages.

Use of the Program in one of the supplied languages is generally straightforward, provided the user can either use the English Help system or find other sources of support in a suitable language. Simply use the File > Language Menu to choose the desired language. However if one has already started to enter data in a Project in English, converting that Project to the desired language may require special steps, as described in my article on Using Languages in Reports.

As new versions of TMG are released from time to time, new phrases are introduced into the program. Updates to the supplied languages are generally provided so that these new phrases will be properly translated.

Custom Languages

Users can create customized versions of any supplied language, except for the standard English (U.S.), or even create their own from scratch. Users of English (U.S.) can switch to a copy of it, which they can customize. Users generally customize a supplied language in order to reflect local spelling or terms, or simply because they prefer different terms be used in reports. While such an effort is not one a novice user would likely choose to undertake, it is within the reach of those who really want to have their reports as they like. Specific considerations are discussed in the following sections.

Custom languages can also be used to achieve highly specialized output – for example I use a custom language to produce the exact format I prefer for my public web pages, and well-known user Teresa Elliott has devised a method to use a custom language to output census data in a tabular format. This technique requires creation of custom Sentence Structures and other rather advanced techniques. See my article on Creating Specially Formatted Output for more details.

An ambitious user, or group of users, could create translations to allow TMG to operate in a language other than those supplied. In fact, as I understand it, that is the origin of the Afrikaans language currently shipped with TMG. Such an undertaking would be a significant effort, and requires knowledge of details beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested in pursuing that, I suggest contacting Wholly Genes for guidance.

Changing the Interface Language

The most obvious use of languages in TMG is for the user interface – the labels on the menus, and the text on all the screens you see in using the program. You change the language used for the user interface by selecting the desired language from the File > Language menu. If you choose one of the languages listed the interface screens will all be changed to that language. That is all that's required to change the language used for the user interface screens, with the rather significant exception of Help, with remains in English. (If you choose a language you can't read, be sure to note where the Language option is on the menu so you can change back to your regular language.)

Be aware that this change also sets the default language for Sentence Structures to that language, and thus has an important impact if you create new Tag Types, modify the Sentences in existing ones, or edit the Sentences locally in individual Tags.

Likewise, changing the interface language changes the default language setting for newly defined reports. This can cause failure to get the expected results when creating reports.

Both issues are discussed in my article on Using Languages in Reports.

There are important issues to address if you have previously worked in one language, and are now converting to a different one. See the section on Conversions in the Reports article.

You can modify any of the translations supplied, or create your own language as described in the section below.

Creating a Custom Language

You create new languages by using the Copy or Add functions on the Languages screen, accessed by File > Languages > Customize on the main menu. If you are going to create a variation of English (U.S.), or an entirely new language, I recommend using the Add function, so only your new additions will appear. If you want to create a variation on any other language, I suggest copying it as a starting point.

Modifying the Translation Tables

To modify a supplied or custom language, select that language on the Languages screen and click Edit. This opens the Edit Language screen. You cannot modify the English (U.S.) language supplied with the program. You can copy it, or you can work with the supplied English2 language, which is simply a copy of English (U.S.).

In the left column, labeled "English (Read only)," is the list of standard phrases used by the program. The right column, labeled with the name of the selected alternate language, contains the phrases that will be substituted. If you created an alternate language using the Add feature, rather than Copy, this column will initially be empty.

When there is nothing in the right column, the default English phrase is used. Thus any phrase that is not translated will appear in English (U.S.) in the interface or reports.

You create a translation for a phrase by simply typing it into the corresponding field in the right column. The phrases used for the user interface are listed alphabetically at the top of the list, followed by the phrases used by the report writer, again alphabetically. So if you are trying to edit phrases for reports, be sure to scroll to the bottom part of the list to find them.

Note that some phrases use special characters, such as "%" and "#." These are variables which cause other text to be inserted in the phrase. They are mainly used for the user interface, and I'm afraid explaining them is beyond the scope of this article.

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