Is there an option to output a manual page in a different language? I don't want to change the computer language completely, but only specific manual pages. For example

$ man -English man
Man is a manual program
$ man -Russian man
Инструцтия для Unix, BSD и Linux.

3 Answers 3


If your man is from the man-db package (man 2.x, like on most GNU/Linux distributions), the fastest way is to use the -L flag of man. You need just to know the abbreviation of the wanted locale.

man -Len man   # -> English man-page of man
man -Lru man   # -> Russian man-page of man

If you use the other man implementation (man 1.x), the only way is to change the environment variables $LC_MESSAGES or $LANG like described in the other answers.

  • 1
    I only found the stuff I put in my post when I searched the man man page for "language". But if you search for "locale", you find the very useful option of jofel's post. This could be useful to remember if you ever do other language related configuration. Jul 20, 2012 at 14:29
  • $ man -Len man man: invalid option -- 'L' man, version 1.6g on gentoo
    – A.D.
    Jan 19, 2014 at 14:20
  • 1
    @A.D. I extended my answer. I was not aware of the fact, that man has forked long time ago. Use man from the man-db package if you want to use the -L option.
    – jofel
    Jan 20, 2014 at 9:38

To get a localized manual page, set the LC_MESSAGES locale environment variable. For a single invocation of man:

LC_MESSAGES=ru_RU man man

If you always want manual pages in Russian, but want other commands to speak English, you can set up an alias in your .bashrc or other shell initialization file:

alias man='LC_MESSAGES=ru_RU man'
  • The manpages in different languages in Debian seem to come in packages like manpages-ru for Russian, manpages-fr for French, etc. But I can't find a -se (for Swedish). Do you know (or do you know how to find out) if this is in fact so? Man pages in your native language would be a dream! Jul 19, 2012 at 8:10
  • 1
    @EmanuelBerg That's a good point, in Ubuntu (and Debian and many other distributions) there is a package with translations of manpages from many common sources. There's no manpages-sv though, presumably because few people bother to translate English into Swedish. I think this is where the active translation efforts are coordinated, there's no mention of Swedish. Jul 19, 2012 at 8:29
  • I wrote a mail to the guy on your link, if everything works out, I'll start translating right away. I know of other guys that would love such a project, as well. It is a huge project of course but if it was possible for all those other languages, it is possible for Swedish as well. I never did anything like this before, so if you think I should talk to some person or read something (or whatever), don't hesitate to contact me. Jul 21, 2012 at 0:14

Reading man man, it appears you should change your environmental variables and then use man as usual. If it is not there in your language, it will still show the English version.

   International support is available with this package.   Native  lan‐
   guage  manual pages are accessible (if available on your system) via
   use of locale functions.  To activate such support, it is  necessary
   to  set either $LC_MESSAGES, $LANG or another system dependent envi‐
   ronment variable to your language locale, usually specified  in  the
   POSIX 1003.1 based format:


   If  the  desired  page  is available in your locale, it will be dis‐
   played in lieu of the standard (usually American English) page.

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