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8.3.10 Modifying Comments

Any translation work done seriously will raise many linguistic difficulties, for which decisions have to be made, and the choices further documented. These documents may be saved within the PO file in form of translator comments, which the translator is free to create, delete, or modify at will. These comments may be useful to herself when she returns to this PO file after a while.

Comments not having whitespace after the initial ‘#’, for example, those beginning with ‘#.’ or ‘#:’, are not translator comments, they are exclusively created by other gettext tools. So, the commands below will never alter such system added comments, they are not meant for the translator to modify. See The Format of PO Files.

The following commands are somewhat similar to those modifying translations, so the general indications given for those apply here. See Modifying Translations.


Interactively edit the translator comments (po-edit-comment).


Save the translator comments on the kill ring, and delete it (po-kill-comment).


Save the translator comments on the kill ring, without deleting it (po-kill-ring-save-comment).


Replace the translator comments, taking the new from the kill ring (po-yank-comment).

These commands parallel PO mode commands for modifying the translation strings, and behave much the same way as they do, except that they handle this part of PO file comments meant for translator usage, rather than the translation strings. So, if the descriptions given below are slightly succinct, it is because the full details have already been given. See Modifying Translations.

The command # (po-edit-comment) opens a new Emacs window containing a copy of the translator comments on the current PO file entry. If there are no such comments, PO mode understands that the translator wants to add a comment to the entry, and she is presented with an empty screen. Comment marks (#) and the space following them are automatically removed before edition, and reinstated after. For translator comments pertaining to obsolete entries, the uncommenting and recommenting operations are done twice. Once in the editing window, the keys C-c C-c allow the translator to tell she is finished with editing the comment. See Details of Sub Edition, for further details.

Functions found on po-subedit-mode-hook, if any, are executed after the string has been inserted in the edit buffer.

The command K (po-kill-comment) gets rid of all translator comments, while saving those comments on the kill ring. The command W (po-kill-ring-save-comment) takes a copy of the translator comments on the kill ring, but leaves them undisturbed in the current entry. The command Y (po-yank-comment) completely replaces the translator comments by a string taken at the front of the kill ring. When this command is immediately repeated, the comments just inserted are withdrawn, and replaced by other strings taken along the kill ring.

On the kill ring, all strings have the same nature. There is no distinction between translation strings and translator comments strings. So, for example, let’s presume the translator has just finished editing a translation, and wants to create a new translator comment to document why the previous translation was not good, just to remember what was the problem. Foreseeing that she will do that in her documentation, the translator may want to quote the previous translation in her translator comments. To do so, she may initialize the translator comments with the previous translation, still at the head of the kill ring. Because editing already pushed the previous translation on the kill ring, she merely has to type M-w prior to #, and the previous translation will be right there, all ready for being introduced by some explanatory text.

On the other hand, presume there are some translator comments already and that the translator wants to add to those comments, instead of wholly replacing them. Then, she should edit the comment right away with #. Once inside the editing window, she can use the regular Emacs commands C-y (yank) and M-y (yank-pop) to get the previous translation where she likes.

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