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Urls - translate or not?

I've asked a similar question before and then deleted it. Now it becomes relevant again - is this a good idea to translate urls or not? How about query parameters?

Do all modern browsers display unicode characters in the URL bar correctly?

Could you advice?

Evgeny's avatar
asked 2010-04-29 18:31:27 -0500
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2 Answers


As to the basic idea of translating URLs I'd say yes, definitely translate them. It's a beautiful little detail.

It gets tough with the Unicode, though, I think. While all modern browsers can, to my knowledge, deal effortlessly with UTF-8 characters in URLs, it is possible that a translated URL shows up in many other places:

  • In text files
  • Copy+pasted into E-Mails and other forms of communication
  • As a link on an external web page that has different encoding
  • Read by client libraries that can't deal with UTF-8 characters (see for example here)
  • Viewed in non-standard browsers

and so on. From what I can see looking around on SO, this is possible, but shaky.

For latin-based languages, I'd say translate them, but use ASCII characters only. That's how I would do it in the german translation, for one. Every language has their own, safe rules how to deal with that (in German, ä becomes ae, in Finnish, ä becomes a, and so on).

It's obviously not a solution for the rest of the world, and it would be nice to be able to have cyrillic, chinese, japanese, korean...... question texts in the URL. Hmm.

Update: I've posted a question on SO with good results. Apparently, percent-encoded URLs will work fine, and displayed correctly in the browser. Evgeny, what do you think?

Pekka's avatar
updated 2010-04-30 02:25:52 -0500, answered 2010-04-30 00:56:35 -0500
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Yes - translated urls look much better! Practically though translation of urls should be done by programmers not translators IMO, b/c urls are keys to content and they must be unique. Non-technical translators might miss this, so I've disabled transation of urls on this multilingual site. Thanks!
Evgeny's avatar Evgeny (2010-04-30 11:03:50 -0500) edit
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All Modern browsers showing unicode url correctly except IE.

For my askbot app I badly need this feature.

Zahid's avatar
answered 2012-08-03 22:08:51 -0500
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