Style Guide Wolof (wo)


This style guide is intended for translators working on Wolof Mozilla projects. It provides in-depth information about the quality standards expected by Mozilla for the translation of all product components. All translators should read this guide before commencing any translation work.

This guide addresses general translation issues and specifies certain rules of style and usage specific to your language. It should be used as a guideline to avoid common typographic errors, and to maintain consistent terminology and writing style across a project’s components and indeed a product range. The guide should be used in conjunction with the current and previous product-specific glossaries, glossaries of other products of a product range, and the industry standard platform-specific glossaries, such as those provided by Microsoft.

This document may be updated or completed in the course of translation. Where no specific instruction or recommendation is specified, translators should use the phrasing and style that comply with industry standards.

General Style Considerations

Style guidelines

Follow these basic rules:

Original American English text tends to be rather casual. For Wolof you must adapt your text to the expected audience. It is important to keep sentences as concise and close to the original meaning as possible.

Try to avoid long, nested sentence constructions. If necessary, break up the original sentence and regroup it syntactically.

Use wording that is succinct, unambiguous, and free of jargon.

Produce a translation that sounds as it if was originally written in your language, i.e. avoid following the original source sentence structure too closely.

Always bear in mind who your target audience is (i.e. an experienced computer user, a beginner, or a combination of both groups).

Use a consistent style throughout all product components and across a product range, to ensure that all Wolof Mozilla products can be linguistically identified as part of a group of products.

Style guidelines specific to Mozilla products

Please refer to the reference documentation supplied by Mozilla and any this style guides and make a note of anything significant and specific that should be noted with respect to Mozilla.

Reference terminology

The following terminology sources should be used as reference in the translation:

Product-specific glossary, to ensure consistency across all product components.

Previous version product-specific glossary, to ensure consistency between versions.

Glossaries of other Mozilla products, to ensure cross-product consistency.

Microsoft / Apple glossaries, to ensure adherence to the industry standards. It is your responsibility to make sure that you always have the latest Microsoft and Apple glossaries at your disposal. The glossaries can be found at: and

Terminology not found in the glossary or style guide

Please make a log of any terms not found in the glossary or style guide that are used frequently in the materials. Return this log to Rubric so that the terms can be incorporated into the glossary. This increases consistency in large projects.


Common Abbreviations

You might need to abbreviate some words in the UI (mainly buttons or options names) due to lack of space. This can be done in the following ways:

It should be noted that Wolof does not frequently use abbreviations and acronyms and consequently there are very few abbreviations and no acronyms found in Wolof

The few common abbreviations in Wolof include the following examples:

The following table lists common Wolof expressions and their associated, acceptable abbreviations.

ExpressionAcceptable Abbreviation
Màkkaanu bataaxal(+) m-bat.
Ci misaal (for example)(+) cmis.
Gigabyte(+) Go.
Simili(+) sim.
waxtu(+) wxt
Weer(+) wr
Seriñ bi(+) Sñ
Soxna ci(+) Sx

Use the common abbreviations listed in this section, but avoid extensive use of abbreviations. Do not abbreviate such words as “and,” “or,” “something,” “someone,” or any other word that users might not recognize. If you have any doubt, spell out the word rather than using an abbreviation.

Measurements and Numerals

Metric System Commonly Used?: Yes

Temperature: Celsius

Linear MeasureKilometerKilomeetar
English Units of MeasurementInchPuus

Digit Groups

Country/region: Senegal
Decimal Separator: 0,00
Decimal Separator Description: Comma
Decimal Separator Example: 5,6 ; 75,05
Thousand Separator: Space
Thousand Separator Description: Space
Thousand Separator Example: 1 543 672 ; 1 765 234 987
Notes: Wolof follows French in this regard.

Filename Extensions

Filename extensions and graphic formats referenced by filename extensions such as BMP, GIF, HTML, PNG, TIFF must not be translated.


Acronyms are made up of the initial letters of several words that are represented by these letters. Some well-known examples are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), or RAM (Random Access Memory).

The term acronym refers to words that are made up of the initial letters of the major parts of a compound term if they are pronounced as a new word. Some well-known examples of acronyms are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), or RAM (Random Access Memory). .

Localized Acronyms

When acronyms are localized, which does not happen often, they take the gender of the first substantive. Example:

(+) PAO
(+) CAO
(+) SGBD

Unlocalized Acronyms

If an acronym must remain in English throughout a manual or other text, the first time it occurs, write its full name in Wolof in normal style followed in parentheses by the acronym and its full spelling in English in italics.

Example: (+) Budëe doxalinwii moo saytu coppaleek qaralagiy joxe (DDE, Dynamic Data Exchange) wala ak lëkkalëem dëppóo wul ak mbiri (OLE, Object Linking and Embedding),mën ngëen cay yokk batey te mëngalekook qët miñu ci tofal. Sakkoo ak DDE duñu mën neck budul ngeen jëfandekoo pccub 7.0.


Product Names

As a general rule, all product names are used without definite or indefinite articles. They are treated as proper names.

Copyrights and Trademarks

Product names are often trademarked or may be trademarked in the future and are therefore rarely translated. Before translating any product or component name, please verify that it is in fact translatable and not protected in any way. If in doubt, please contact the Rubric Project Manager.

The same product may be marketed under different names in different countries. One solution is to add a note saying "Marketed as -------- in the UK etc" the first time the product is mentioned, and then continue to use the name as given in the text.

Localized term vs. English term

The preferred language in the computer world is English. Therefore, a translator frequently has to decide whether to use the (correct, but obsolete) translation or simply the English word.


The examples below show how English loanwords inflect for number in Wolof.

English exampleWolof examples
Websites(+) Daluwebi
Proxys(+) Proksi yu

Singular & Plural

Be careful when dealing with compounds: there is no real rule about their plural form. Check your dictionary if in doubt.

EnglishWolof, singularWolof, plural
Tool(+) ab jumtukaay(+) ay jumtukaay
Device(+) ab jëfandaay(+) ay jëfandaay

Verbs and Verb Forms

Always use the right verb corresponding to the action that is described.

Continuous operations are usually expressed in English with a gerund, which should be translated into Wolof like this:

English exampleWolof example
The application is loading the file.(+) Jëfekaay baa ngi yab taxañ bi.


Headings should convey as much information as possible about the ensuing text to help readers locate information quickly.


For edition names, both words should be capitalized:

English exampleWolof example
Entreprise Edition(+) Jukkib Bërëbu liggéey

Capitalize only the first letter of the first word in commands, dialog box titles, and dialog box options.

English exampleWolof example
Open Save As dialog box.(+) Ubbil denc niki boyetu diisoo
Click on File(+) Kilikeel ci Taxañ bi

In headings, captions, table and figure titles, use initial capitals for only the first noun, and for proper nouns and interface terms that require it.

English exampleWolof example
Using Annotation Command(+) Jëfëndekoo Santaaneb Yëglë
Menus and Submenus(+) Mëni ak Ron-mëni

Hyphenation and Compound formation

General Hyphenation Rules


The hyphen is used to divide words between syllables, to link parts of a compound word, and to connect the parts of an inverted or imperative verb form.

Example: (+) xam-xam…

When a hyphenated compound should not be divided between lines (e.g., MS-DOS), use a non-breaking hyphen (CTRL+SHIFT+HYPHEN). Both parts of the compound will be kept together on the same line.


Noun and verb compounds are a frequent word formation strategy in Wolof. Product user interfaces, online help, and documentation contain a number of such examples. However, not all languages use compounding to create complex word meanings.

In Wolof, compounds are derived from:

Noun + noun e.g. gaynde + géej = (+) gaynde-géej
Verb + noun e.g. bëgg + suukër = (+) begg-suukër
Verb + verb e.g. fay + taal = (+) fay-taal

Generally, compounds should be understandable and clear to the user. Overly long or complex compounds should be avoided by verbally expressing the relationship among the various compound components. Keep in mind that unintuitive compounds are ultimately an intelligibility and usability issue.

English examplesWolof example
Internet Accounts(+) Sàqi Internet
Internet News Server Name(+) Turu Cëraakonu Xibaari Internet

Note that English compounds are not necessarily compounds in Wolof. However, English compounds must be translated in a manner that is intelligible to the user and if Wolof translation is narrative in an undesired manner, the English word should be left as it is, with a proper Wolof prefix.

Applications, Products, and Features

Application/product names are often trademarked or may be trademarked in the future and are therefore rarely translated. Occasionally, feature names are trademarked, too (e.g. IntelliSense™). Before translating any application, product, or feature name, please verify that it is in fact translatable and not protected in any way.

Microsoft product names are usually trademarked and remain unlocalized. Product names and non-translated feature names are considered proper nouns and are used without definite or indefinite articles in English. For instance, attaching a genitive “s” to trademarked product names is not feasible as it could be interpreted as a modification of such names. Additions to a product or component name are either added with a hyphen or a periphrastic construction needs to be used. For example, instead of expressing a possessive relationship by using the genitive marker “s” in English, a periphrastic construction should be used:

  1. (-) Microsoft‟s products
  2. (+) Microsoft products
  3. (+) Products by Microsoft

Product names and non-translated feature names should also be treated as proper nouns in Wolof

English exampleWolof example
Windows Mail shares your Internet Connection settings with Internet Explorer(+) Windows Mail dafay séddoo say jekkali Lënku ci Internet ak Internet Explorer
Website addresses will be sent to Microsoft(+) di nanu yónnee dëkkuwaayu daluweb bi Microsoft

By contrast, translated feature names are used with a definite or indefinite article as they are not treated as proper names.

English exampleWolof example
Hide the Task Manager when it is minimized(+) Nëbbal Saytukaayu Waar wi suñ ko tuutalee
Check for updates in your installed Media Player's language(+) Wutal ay yeesal ci sa làkku Media Player bi nga samp

Note that although the two names, Task Manager and Media Player are translatable, it is preferred that they are, in this context, not translated for purposes of clarity because the translated versions of these names will have a potential of losing their meanings since they will be general.

Compounds with Acronyms, Abbreviations or Numerals

The compounds below contain either an abbreviation or a numeral followed by a component name. The abbreviation or numeral is marked in red in the English example. The Wolof example below show how such constructions should be translated.

English exampleWolof example
CD-ROM drive(+) dawalukaayu CD-ROM
2-D gridlines(+) giriyaasu 2-D
24 bit color value(+) soloy melo 24 okte

Note: It is an acceptable principle that when a technical term of the source language does not have a straight equivalent in the target language and all other translation strategies are, for purposes of intelligibility, not applicable, the term should be used as it is in the interest of maintaining the meaning of the term to the user. (Also see the subchapter on English Terminology and the Wolof Terminology for further comments in this respect).

Note also that the translation of the compounds above is similar in every respect with the translation of other compounds in this chapter.


Prepositions and Articles


There is no specific rules concerning articles in Wolof. In singular “ab” (indefinite) and “bi” are used when in doubt of the right article. In plural, “ay” (indefinite) and “yi” are used.


Pay attention to the correct use of the preposition in translations. Influenced by the English language, many translators omit them or change the word order.

US-English expressionWolof expressionComment
Migrate to(+) Toxu jëm“To” is translated as “jëm” when it refers to direction or a destination.
Migrate from(+) Toxoo“from” equals to dubbling the final vowel sound of the verb.
Welcome to…(+) Dalal jàmm ci…The locative applies to products

Key Names

Wolof adopts English versions.

Procedures and Syntax


Use the descriptor (menu, button, command, etc.) only if the source text uses it or if it is needed for clarifying the position of a term in the interface.

Status Bar Messages

Please make sure you adequately capture the meaning of messages when translating.

If you think a source status bar message is ambiguous, query it to make sure you provide the reader with the right information: if you cannot understand it, they are also not certain to. There is nothing more annoying than "help" that doesn't!


Commas and Other Common Punctuation Marks

In Lists and Tables

Do not use a comma after bulleted points.

If the original source entry contains a period, leave it. If the source text does not contain a period, but you split the translation into several independent sentences, put a period at the end of each sentence.

Never put a period after just one word.

The result of this method may be that some entries within one table are with and some entries are without a final period. From a technical point of view this is acceptable. The same convention applies to captions and callouts

Comma vs. Period in Numerals

English uses a period as decimal separator. In Wolof, a comma is used. Do not use a space for this purpose as a space separates the numeral from the abbreviation.

In paper sizes the decimal separator and the abbreviation "in" for inches are kept, since the sizes are US norms and should be represented accordingly.

English exampleWolof example
5.25 cm(+) 5.25 cm
5 x 7.2 inches(+) 5 x 7.2 inches
Letter Landscape 11 x 8.5 in(+) Mod Potare11 x 8.5 in

For thousands, English uses a comma while many other languages use a period (at Microsoft we normally do not use a space for this purpose, but we use a period instead to avoid wrapping problems). In Wolof a comma is used.

English exampleWolof example
1,526(+) 1,526
$ 1,526.75(+) $1,526.75

Special Characters

Wolof adopts English versions.

Typographic Conventions

Consistent use of typographic conventions in documentation helps users locate and interpret information easily. Generally speaking, the source format should be followed as closely as possible, i.e. terms with a particular formatting in the source should have the same formatting in the translation.

If menu, command, option, etc. names are highlighted by bold print in the source, use bold print for the corresponding translated terms. If menu, command, option, etc. names are put in quotes in the source, use quotes for the corresponding terms in the translation.

Note that in software strings, you must use two double quotes (""xxx"") to denote names within a string. If you only use a single double quotes ("xxx"), this will cause problems with the compilation, as strings are generally denoted by double quotes.


Guidelines for the Localization of Error Messages

Wolof Style in Error Messages

It is important to use consistent terminology and language style in the localized error messages, and not just translate as they appear in the US product. New localizers frequently ask for help with error messages. The main principles for translation are clarity, comprehensibility, and consistency.

Standard Phrases in Error Messages

When translating standard phrases, standardize. Note that sometimes the US uses different forms to express the same thing.


Cannot … Could not …(+) Mënul…(+) Mënul a ubbi taxañ biIt is not easy for Wolof to just translate such single terms as they can refer to either a person or thing. As such – in most cases translation refers to a person, and that could be wrong.
Failed to … Failure of …(+) Mujjul…(+) Mujjul ubbi taxañ biSee the comment above
Cannot find … Could not find … Unable to find … Unable to locate …(+) Mënul…(+) Mënul gis sa jëfandaaySee the comment above
Not enough memory Insufficient memory There is not enough memory There is not enough memory available(+) Xel mi doyul(+) Li des ci xel mi doyul ngir mën a yab taxañ biSee the comment above
... is not available ... is unavailable(+) jàppandiwul(+) këmb bi jàppandiwul fimneSee the comment above

Error Messages Containing Placeholders

When localizing error messages containing placeholders, try to find out what will replace the placeholder. This is necessary for the sentence to be grammatically correct when the placeholder is replaced with a word or phrase. Note that the letters used in placeholders convey a specific meaning, see examples below:

  • %d, %ld, %u, and %lu means n/a
  • %c means n/a
  • %s means n/a
  • Examples of error messages containing placeholders:
  • "Checking Web %1!d! of %2!d!" means "Checking Web n/a
  • "INI file "%1!-.200s!" section" means "INI file n/a

When localizing error messages containing placeholders, find out what text will replace the placeholder when the user sees the error message. This process is necessary because you must ensure the resulting sentence will be grammatically correct when the placeholder is replaced with a word or phrase. Most source strings have instructions that detail what text will replace the placeholder.

In the English source string, placeholders are found in the position where they would naturally occur in that language. Since in English numerals typically precede the noun, the numeral placeholders typically precede the noun in the source strings. It will be same in wolof.

English examplesWolof examples
in %d daysci %d fan
%d minutes%d simili

The letters and symbols used in placeholder text convey a specific meaning. Please refer to the following table for examples of placeholder text and corresponding error message text that users will see.

Placeholder textError message text that users will see
%d, %ld, %u, and %luNumber (such as 3 or 512)
%cLetter (such as “f” or “s”)
%sString (such as “Click here to continue.”)
“Checking Web 1!d! of 2!d!"“Checking Web of
“INI file " 1!-.200s!" section”“INI file "" section”
English exampleMessage User will seeWolof example
Replace invalid %s?Replace invalid data? Replace invalid file?(+) Wecci %s bu baaxul bi?
%s already existsFile already exists Name already exists(+) %s bi amna fib a noppi
%s is now set as your personal contact.Regina is now set as your personal contact Mr. Kim is now set as your personal contact(+) %s def nañu ko muy sa xame.
%s stopped working and was closedThe application stopped working and was closed The program stopped working and was closed(+) %s doxatul moo tax ñu tëj ko