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Linguo is a Django application that provides the ability to have multilingual models.

Project description

NOTE: Version 1.3.0 changes the way translations are created/retrieved to make it more in line with Django’s i18n framework (and ugettext). Please re-read the usage instructions below.


Linguo is a Django application that provides the ability to have multilingual models (ie. translatable fields on models). This means that you can have fields on a model with different values for different languages (similar to ugettext, but for models).

It does this by creating additional columns for each language and using accessors to make it transparent to you.

For example:
-> 'Foo'

# If you switch languages, you get the translated value for the field:
-> 'French Foo'


  • Automatically retrieves translated values in the current active language.
  • Supports filtering and ordering on translatable fields.
  • Can support ModelForms for translatable models that automatically save values to the active language.
  • Supports Django versions 1.2 to 1.4
  • Comprehensive test coverage


Subclass MultilingualModel and define the translate property:

from linguo.models import MultilingualModel
from linguo.managers import MultilingualManager

class Product(MultilingualModel):
    name = models.CharField(max_length=255, verbose_name=_('name'))
    description = models.TextField(verbose_name=_('description'))
    price = models.FloatField(verbose_name=_('price'))

    objects = MultilingualManager()

    class Meta:
        # name and description are translatable fields
        translate = ('name', 'description')

MultilingualManager allows you to transparently perform filtering and ordering on translatable fields (more on this below).

Assuming your LANGUAGES settings looks like this …

    ('en', ugettext('English')),
    ('fr', ugettext('French')),

Then, you can do this:

Create a product: It automatically sets the values for the current active language.

product = Product.objects.create(
    name='English Name',
    description='English description',

Translate the fields on that product.

    name='French Name', description='French description'
# You don't have to specify price, because it is not a translatable field

If you switch languages, it will automatically retrieve the corresponding translated values.

-> 'French Name'

-> 'French description'

If you modify translatable fields, it will automatically assign it to current active language.

translation.activate('fr') = 'New French Name'

translation.activate('en')  # This remains untouched in English
-> 'English Name'

Non-translated fields will have the same value regardless of the language we are operating in.

product.price = 99

-> 99

Querying the database

Filtering and ordering works as you would expect it to. It will filter/order in the language you are operating in. You need to use MultilingualManager on the model in order for this feature to work.

Product.objects.filter(name='French Name').order_by('name')

Model Forms for Multilingual models

Model Forms work transparently in the sense that it automatically saves the form data to the current active language.

But by default, a Model Form for a Multlingual model will contain all the fields for every language (eg. name, name_fr, etc.). Typically this is not what you want. You just need to specify the fields attribute so that it doesn’t generate separate fields for each language.

class ProductForm(forms.ModelForm):
    class Meta:
        fields = ('name', 'description', 'price',)
        model = Product

The template output and field names for the form will be the same regardless of the language you are operating in.

When saving the form, it will automatically save the form data to the fields in the current active language.

translation.activate('fr') # Activate French

data = {'name': 'French Name', 'description': 'French Description', 'price': 37}
form = ProductForm(data=data)

new_product =
-> 'French Name'

-> 'French Description'

-> 37.0

# Other languages will not be affected

-> ''

-> ''

-> 37
 # Of course, non-translatable fields will have a consistent value


1. Add linguo to your INSTALLED_APPS setting. 1. Ensure the LANGUAGES setting contains all the languages for your site.

It is highly recommended that you use south so that changes to your model can be migrated using automatic schema migrations. This is because linguo creates new fields on your model that are transparent to you. See the section below on “Behind The Scenes” for more details.

Adding new languages

  • Append the new language to the LANGUAGES setting.
    • You should avoid changing the primary language (ie. the first language in the list). If you do that, you will have to migrate the data in that column.
  • If using south, perform an automatic schemamigration:
    ./ schemamigration <app-name> --auto
  • If NOT using south, examine the schema change by running:
    ./ sql <app-name>

You’ll have to manually write the SQL statement to alter the table .

Running the tests

./ test tests --settings=linguo.tests.settings

Behind The Scenes (How It Works)

For each field marked as translatable, linguo will create additional database fields for each additional language.

For example, if you mark the following field as translatable …

name = models.CharField(_('name'), max_length=255)

class Meta:
    translate = ('name',)

… and you have three languages (en, fr, de). Your model will have the following db fields:

name = models.CharField(_('name'), max_length=255) # This is for the FIRST language "en"
name_fr = models.CharField(_('name (French)'), max_length=255) # This is for "fr"
name_de = models.CharField(_('name (German)'), max_length=255) # This is for "de"

On the instantiated model, “name” becomes a property that appropriately gets/sets the values for the corresponding field that matches the language we are working with.

For example, if the current language is “fr” …

product = Product() = "test" # --> sets name_fr

… this will set product.name_fr (not

Database filtering works because MultingualQueryset rewrites the query.

For example, if the current language is “fr”, and we run the following query …


… it will be rewritten to be …



This app is licensed under the BSD license. See the LICENSE file for details.

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