DevTools:Locale Files

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A locale file is stored in the locales.d folder under the Sword path.
The file name is generally the language code with extension .conf
As Unicode text files, locale files should be encoded UTF-8 (without BOM) and the file name should include "-utf8" after the language code.
Other encodings are deprecated.


Locales require a few things. Let's step through the German locale:

excerpts from /sword/locales.d/de.conf:



The above information is used to define the locale. They should be fairly obvious. Name should be taken from a standard abbrev, probably returned from echo $LANG. Please understand that this, and all entries are case sensitive.


This section requires a "one-to-one" mapping for each string to be translated.

The following entries are translation strings for anything you might want. REQUIRED are the book names of the Bible, including deuterocanonical books if used. Other things might be option name, value, tip, translations, or any text returned from the engine.

If you find any errors or omissions, please post a message that you found a constant string in the engine not being (properly) translated.

Genesis=1. Mose
Exodus=2. Mose
Leviticus=3. Mose

# <snipped rest of book names>

Observe that a full-stop is a permitted character in a book name.

Book Abbrevs

This section permits a "many-to-one" mapping for each book, as required by the references used in the Bible translation or commentary, etc.

[Book Abbrevs]
1 C=1Cor
1 JN=1Jn

These are the abbreviations for each book and are REQUIRED for the locale to work correctly in the engine. They are actually more than just abbreviations; they tell the parser how to incrementally parse versekey text. Notice that 1 Chronicles would come, alphabetically before 1 Corinthians. The above entries say: 1Cor (which is the OSIS book id for 1 Corinthians) has precedence up through "1 C", any character beyond that will disambiguate the entry anyway, so the default 1 CHRONICLES or 1 CORINTHIANS entries would take over from there.

English abbreviations are no longer required to be in the abbreviations section as they are in there by default; in the example above they are in there for demonstration purposes.


There MUST be at least 1 abbreviation entry for each book name comprised of a toupper (uppercase function) of the entire string EXACTLY as you have translated it in the [Text] section.

Following are the REQUIRED entries from our excerpt book names above.

1. MOSE=Gen
2. MOSE=Ex
3. MOSE=Lev

That's it for requirements. Tuning your locale can be important for the user experience. Many [Book Abbrevs] entries may be added to assign precedence if, for example, you find you are getting taken to the wrong entries from text like: "Ma 1:1" (would be Malachi by default because of alphabetical precedence, but might want Matthew or Mark). In this case, you would put in an entry MA=Matt or MA=Mark

You can test your locale with the sword/tests/parsekey test program (this program is in the SWORD source along with several other programs that are used to validate the configuration files) and try different strings to see how they parse.

A full-stop is a permitted character in a localized book abbreviation. Other punctuation characters commonly used in verse references are not allowed in localized book names. These include the hyphen '-' (used for verse ranges), the colon ':' (used to separate chapter and verse numbers), and the comma ',' (used for verse lists). Additionally, numerals in non-initial position are not permitted in book names (i.e. '3John' is valid but 'Psalm151' is not).


If you create a new locale file as part of the process towards making a module, please submit it to CrossWire.

Submissions should be sent to

Maintained locale files

On the CrossWire server, the locale files are stored in /space/home/ftp/pub/sword/raw/locales.d
Users with FTP or SCP access are able to download them from that folder.

Corrections to errors in locale files should be sent to