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This is the home page for Ubuntu English translations.

Our intention is to maintain a central communications channel for en-GB based languages. Generally, this includes the forms of English spoken in Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, India, Australia, South Africa and Canada.

These variants are almost identical in their written forms, so it makes sense for some communication and co-operation to take place. We hope to eliminate the duplication of effort that is currently taking place in regards to translations.

Our translations are based on British English. That effort is headquartered here. Essentially, we are producing an internationalised form of en_GB.

We do not intend to restrict the activities of local translation groups, but rather to provide a common base for everyone to build upon. Through co-operation, we hope to strengthen rather than weaken localised versions of English.

How to Participate

Joining the Ubuntu English (United Kingdom) Translators team allows you to commit translations and vote on policies. If you are not a member, your contributions will need to be approved by a member. The procedure for joining is as follows.

  1. Sign up for a Launchpad account.

  2. Make your e-mail address visible on your Launchpad homepage so that we can get in touch with you. If we cannot contact you, you cannot join.
  3. Apply to join the Ubuntu English (United Kingdom) Translators team

  4. Sign up to the ubuntu-l10n-eng mailing list

  5. An Administrator should e-mail you. Reply to their message.

The team is moderated, meaning that you need to be approved by an Administrator before you are allowed to join. Membership is dependent upon:

  • adequate command of the written English language to qualify as a translator
  • ability to contribute constructively and work as a team under the leadership of the Administrators
  • following established guidelines and directions
  • remaining contactable via the mailing list

Don't let these requirements scare you off, though. Provided you have decent written English language skills, you will likely be admitted.


Our primary communications channel is our mailing list.


Table of translations

The bulk of our translation effort is simple word substitution. To streamline this process and to maintain consistency, we are compiling a table of translations. Please help us by contributing to that table. As a quick guide, refer to our table of common translations, below.

For the Check Spelling function on the wiki to function correctly, we should also add our words to the Local Spelling Words list.


Our primary tool is Rosetta, Ubuntu's Web-based translation tool. To get started, consult the Translation Team portal and the FAQ list.

Although already an excellent tool, Rosetta suffers from a number of deficiencies that may be of hindrance to our project. These issues are currently being addressed:

Greasemonkey script

Team member Malcolm Parsons maintains a Greasemonkey script to ease the translation process in Rosetta. It is updated at irregular intervals, so you will need to update periodically. Be sure to remove any previously installed versions before installing a new version.

Note that the script merely makes suggestions for word substitutions (based on our table of translations). It does not check punctuation, grammar or style. It would be unfeasible for us (or evidently anyone else) to produce an automated corrector of these elements, so they must be assessed manually.



Screenshots: One | Two

Translation Guidelines

Unless they conflict with the information given below, translations should be based on the following dictionaries:

The GNOME and KDE projects have established guidelines for their own translation efforts. Pyxidium Limited has been doing some good work with OpenOffice.org and Mozilla localisations.

Table of common translations

Below is a table of common translations. Note that these rules do not always apply, so use with caution. For a more complete list, refer to the aforementioned table of translations.

  • en-US Spelling

    English Translation




    catalogue, dialogue



    encyclopaedia, anaesthetic, archaeology



    spelt, spilt, spoilt, dreamt, knelt, burnt



    centre, theatre, fibre, litre, metre, millimetre



    adrenaline, glycerine



    civilisation, organisational



    colourise, organise, maximise, minimise, but not size






    colour, favour, honour



    only when a noun: licence, practice, advice, defence









    'multi-storey', but not 'multiple'

    Dr., Mr., Mrs.

    Dr, Mr, Mrs

    Only use a full stop if the final letter of the abbreviation is not the final letter of the word it is abbreviating.

    St, St.

    St, St.

    St = Saint ; St. = Street





    the tick box



    a bank cheque



    a game of chequers, a chequered floor



    rotate anti-clockwise


    Permanently Delete

    make this change if a Delete action will bypass the Rubbish Bin (Trash)


    disc, disk

    Contextual: If describing a round object (e.g. a CD or DVD), use 'disc'. Otherwise, use 'disk' (e.g. a hard disk drive).







    The lid covering the engine compartment of a car.







    full stop


    programme, program

    Contextual: use 'program' in computing contexts, and 'programme' everywhere else (e.g. a computer program, a television programme)

    pound sign






    The luggage compartment of a car.


    rubbish, the Rubbish Bin

    When referring to generic waste, use 'rubbish'. When referring to the place where deleted files go, use 'the Rubbish Bin' (note the capitalisation).



    pronunciation of the final letter of the English alphabet

    ZIP code


    Be careful with this one. A correct English translation may be referring to the American postal system, in which case "ZIP code" is correct.

Dialectical/Contextual Differences

Since our goal is to provide a common base for English, one must be mindful of the use of English internationally, and the differences between dialects and contexts (nouns/verbs, computing/non-computing, etc.). Below is a list of differences that should be reconciled. We will use the mailing list to discuss such matters.

  • en-US Spelling

    Current en-GB Translation




    This may be dependent upon context



    This may be dependent upon context



    This may be dependent upon context

Other Resources

Highly recommended:

Wikipedia hosts a number of informative pages on the subject:

Other useful resources:

Similar Groups

Below is a list of groups that share some of our values. For our translation effort to be successful, we should be communicating and co-operating with them as much as possible.



CategoryHomepage CategoryLoCoTeams CategoryEnglishTranslation

EnglishTranslation (last edited 2013-12-10 00:34:45 by kennybobs)