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The Translation Component

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The Translation Component

The Translation component provides tools to internationalize your application.


You can install the component in 2 different ways:

Then, require the vendor/autoload.php file to enable the autoloading mechanism provided by Composer. Otherwise, your application won't be able to find the classes of this Symfony component.

Constructing the Translator

The main access point of the Translation component is Translator. Before you can use it, you need to configure it and load the messages to translate (called message catalogs).


The constructor of the Translator class needs one argument: The locale.

use Symfony\Component\Translation\Translator;
use Symfony\Component\Translation\MessageSelector;

$translator = new Translator('fr_FR', new MessageSelector());


The locale set here is the default locale to use. You can override this locale when translating strings.


The term locale refers roughly to the user's language and country. It can be any string that your application uses to manage translations and other format differences (e.g. currency format). The ISO 639-1 language code, an underscore (_), then the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code (e.g. fr_FR for French/France) is recommended.

Loading Message Catalogs

The messages are stored in message catalogs inside the Translator class. A message catalog is like a dictionary of translations for a specific locale.

The Translation component uses Loader classes to load catalogs. You can load multiple resources for the same locale, which will then be combined into one catalog.

The component comes with some default Loaders and you can create your own Loader too. The default loaders are:

All file loaders require the Config component.

You can also create your own Loader, in case the format is not already supported by one of the default loaders.

At first, you should add one or more loaders to the Translator:

// ...
$translator->addLoader('array', new ArrayLoader());

The first argument is the name to which you can refer the loader in the translator and the second argument is an instance of the loader itself. After this, you can add your resources using the correct loader.

Loading Messages with the ArrayLoader

Loading messages can be done by calling addResource(). The first argument is the loader name (this was the first argument of the addLoader method), the second is the resource and the third argument is the locale:

// ...
$translator->addResource('array', array(
    'Hello World!' => 'Bonjour',
), 'fr_FR');

Loading Messages with the File Loaders

If you use one of the file loaders, you should also use the addResource method. The only difference is that you should put the file name to the resource file as the second argument, instead of an array:

// ...
$translator->addLoader('yaml', new YamlFileLoader());
$translator->addResource('yaml', 'path/to/', 'fr_FR');

The Translation Process

To actually translate the message, the Translator uses a simple process:

  • A catalog of translated messages is loaded from translation resources defined for the locale (e.g. fr_FR). Messages from the The Translation Component are also loaded and added to the catalog, if they don't already exist. The end result is a large "dictionary" of translations;
  • If the message is located in the catalog, the translation is returned. If not, the translator returns the original message.

You start this process by calling trans() or transChoice(). Then, the Translator looks for the exact string inside the appropriate message catalog and returns it (if it exists).

Fallback Locales

If the message is not located in the catalog of the specific locale, the translator will look into the catalog of one or more fallback locales. For example, assume you're trying to translate into the fr_FR locale:

  1. First, the translator looks for the translation in the fr_FR locale;
  2. If it wasn't found, the translator looks for the translation in the fr locale;
  3. If the translation still isn't found, the translator uses the one or more fallback locales set explicitly on the translator.

For (3), the fallback locales can be set by calling setFallbackLocales():

// ...

Using Message Domains

As you've seen, message files are organized into the different locales that they translate. The message files can also be organized further into "domains".

The domain is specified in the fourth argument of the addResource() method. The default domain is messages. For example, suppose that, for organization, translations were split into three different domains: messages, admin and navigation. The French translation would be loaded like this:

// ...
$translator->addLoader('xlf', new XliffFileLoader());

$translator->addResource('xlf', '', 'fr_FR');
$translator->addResource('xlf', '', 'fr_FR', 'admin');

When translating strings that are not in the default domain (messages), you must specify the domain as the third argument of trans():

$translator->trans('Symfony is great', array(), 'admin');

Symfony will now look for the message in the admin domain of the specified locale.


Read how to use the Translation component in Using the Translator.

This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.