Koha Swedish Translation Work

Lars Noodén

Koha uses primarily the Perl scripting language and the Structured Query Language (SQL) for its database. Behind the scenes, the text for Koha's two interfaces are managed by Perl using gettext. The database is managed using MySQL.

There are translations for the OPAC, the Intranet and the MARC21 labels:

Two User Interfaces

Koha has two interfaces. There is a separate gettext file for each one:


[Kbabel screen shot]

gettext are a set of utilities which depend on keeping the text messages in a program separate from the program itself. In that way, the program can have text in different languages without having to re-write the program. One advantage to that is that the translation work can be done by non-programmers.

%pOverwrite the existing one with this
%pErsätta den befintliga med den här

Kbabel or emacs in gettext mode, or other tools can be used to edit the language files.


There are five types of MARC21 records, about 3400 fields and subfields in all. It can be confusing because in all five, the fields are identified by counting numbers and the subfields by letters.

022 z Annullerat ISSN Canceled ISSN R
245 a Huvudtitel Title NR
760 b Upplaga Edition NR


The goal is to minimize the time, motion and number of repetitions needed to collate the Swedish and English labels with each other and with the field and subfield identifiers.

[spreadsheet screen shot]

Many methods work. My current method is to work with the MARC21 labels in a spreadsheet, with Swedish in one column and English in another on one part of the screen. On another part there is a web browser with a pair of tabs, one for the English translation and one for the Swedish.

The MARC21 fields, subfields and labels were extracted from the Library of Congress example using a combination of scripts and regular expression pattern matching and then imported into the spreadsheet. These are then checked against the corresponding Swedish labels.

When that part is finished, the columns can be exported from the spreadsheet into a format which can be imported into the SQL database.

Category Quantity
holdings 153
community 322
classification 164
bibliographic 1765
authority 806


MARC21. U. S. Library of Congress. 2000 Edition. Update No. 5. Oct 2004.

LIBRIS Formathandbok (MARC21). The Royal Library of Sweden. Revised 25 Mar 2004.

Perl / CPAN


Kbabel. KDE Internationalization project. 17 Oct 2004.

GNU gettext utilities. 6 May 2002.

Last updated: 11 Mar 2005
Lars Noodén