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Do people in non-English-speaking countries code in English?

I know that there are non-English based languages out there, where keywords are in some other tongue, but popular languages are in English. However, if you're a non-native English speaker, developing for a non-English market, do you use your native language when naming functions, classes, variables, etc.?

If you do, what kind of morphology do you adopt? For example, functions are often named with verbs (e.g., buildData), would you use the imperative form -- if your language has one -- in the name (e.g., construisciDati in Italian)?

A related question: For users of non-Latin writing systems and languages that support Unicode naming, do you make use of it or stick with romanisation? e.g., 建造数据, for our buildData example in [Googled] Mandarin.


4 Answers 4


I'm German but all my sourcecode files are strictly english-only; this also includes comments and commit messages.

The reasons for this are:

  • Other people might work with the code. They are not necessarily German, too.
  • English is usually shorter.
  • Keywords, stdlib functions etc. are also english so it's consistent.
  • When asking other people for help, e.g. on Stack Overflow it will be much easier if they actually understand the code you post.
  • 2
    +1 for consistency, and to the fact the potential maintainers might not know your language. Jun 14, 2012 at 12:57

I'm German, and I doubt anyone outside of Germany will ever look at the code I write. Still, I use English when writing code. We even use English in the internal ticket tracker, mostly to make it look nicer with internal class names and to facilitate the processing of outside bug reports, which may be in English. Also, I'm a stickler for consistency. Professional hazard, I guess.

However, if I were to use German in my code, I'd shy away from using umlauts and other "exotic" characters. Until ASCII goes the way of the floppy disk and UTF8 is the absolutely dominant encoding, non-ASCII characters are just asking for trouble if you open the file in another editor for any reason.


it depends. When I'm coding only for me oder the company I work for and I know that it will be only used and developt here in germany, I use a mix. Sometimes I find an english function name more meaningfull than a germany adapted version of it. But I also sometimes use german function, variables, etc. names to make it clearer or if it fits. Example: RechneAlleFelder() instead of CalculateAllFields() . Sometimes is just a decision out of my current mood/feeling.

But if I use non-English names I avoid using special chars like the german umlaute. I have enough problems with them when converting data or displaying them on websites or in the programm as output. (Oh man...I realy like OEM/ANSI codepages NOT). ;)

If the programm will be used internationaly or if it's a side/personal project that I might put up in Github or other places, than I'm only using english and no special chars and UTF-8. Just to be as safe as possible to avoid problems.


I use english language, if programming language allows to use it. However, there are some specific languages, that does not support english - I'm avoiding their usage and market where they are used.

Common sense of using english - it's world language, that allows you easily communicate with developers from other countries.

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