rustc's diagnostic infrastructure supports translatable diagnostics using Fluent.

Writing translatable diagnostics

There are two ways of writing translatable diagnostics:

  1. For simple diagnostics, using a diagnostic (or subdiagnostic) derive. ("Simple" diagnostics being those that don't require a lot of logic in deciding to emit subdiagnostics and can therefore be represented as diagnostic structs). See the diagnostic and subdiagnostic structs documentation.
  2. Using typed identifiers with Diag APIs (in Diagnostic or Subdiagnostic or LintDiagnostic implementations).

When adding or changing a translatable diagnostic, you don't need to worry about the translations. Only updating the original English message is required. Currently, each crate which defines translatable diagnostics has its own Fluent resource, which is a file named messages.ftl, located in the root of the crate (such ascompiler/rustc_expand/messages.ftl).


Fluent is built around the idea of "asymmetric localization", which aims to decouple the expressiveness of translations from the grammar of the source language (English in rustc's case). Prior to translation, rustc's diagnostics relied heavily on interpolation to build the messages shown to the users. Interpolated strings are hard to translate because writing a natural-sounding translation might require more, less, or just different interpolation than the English string, all of which would require changes to the compiler's source code to support.

Diagnostic messages are defined in Fluent resources. A combined set of Fluent resources for a given locale (e.g. en-US) is known as Fluent bundle.

typeck_address_of_temporary_taken = cannot take address of a temporary

In the above example, typeck_address_of_temporary_taken is the identifier for a Fluent message and corresponds to the diagnostic message in English. Other Fluent resources can be written which would correspond to a message in another language. Each diagnostic therefore has at least one Fluent message.

typeck_address_of_temporary_taken = cannot take address of a temporary
    .label = temporary value

By convention, diagnostic messages for subdiagnostics are specified as "attributes" on Fluent messages (additional related messages, denoted by the .<attribute-name> syntax). In the above example, label is an attribute of typeck_address_of_temporary_taken which corresponds to the message for the label added to this diagnostic.

Diagnostic messages often interpolate additional context into the message shown to the user, such as the name of a type or of a variable. Additional context to Fluent messages is provided as an "argument" to the diagnostic.

typeck_struct_expr_non_exhaustive =
    cannot create non-exhaustive {$what} using struct expression

In the above example, the Fluent message refers to an argument named what which is expected to exist (how arguments are provided to diagnostics is discussed in detail later).

You can consult the Fluent documentation for other usage examples of Fluent and its syntax.

Guideline for message naming

Usually, fluent uses - for separating words inside a message name. However, _ is accepted by fluent as well. As _ fits Rust's use cases better, due to the identifiers on the Rust side using _ as well, inside rustc, - is not allowed for separating words, and instead _ is recommended. The only exception is for leading -s, for message names like -passes_see_issue.

Guidelines for writing translatable messages

For a message to be translatable into different languages, all of the information required by any language must be provided to the diagnostic as an argument (not just the information required in the English message).

As the compiler team gain more experience writing diagnostics that have all of the information necessary to be translated into different languages, this page will be updated with more guidance. For now, the Fluent documentation has excellent examples of translating messages into different locales and the information that needs to be provided by the code to do so.

Compile-time validation and typed identifiers

rustc's fluent_messages macro performs compile-time validation of Fluent resources and generates code to make it easier to refer to Fluent messages in diagnostics.

Compile-time validation of Fluent resources will emit any parsing errors from Fluent resources while building the compiler, preventing invalid Fluent resources from causing panics in the compiler. Compile-time validation also emits an error if multiple Fluent messages have the same identifier.


Various parts of rustc's diagnostic internals are modified in order to support translation.


All of rustc's traditional diagnostic APIs (e.g. struct_span_err or note) take any message that can be converted into a DiagMessage (or SubdiagMessage).

rustc_error_messages::DiagMessage can represent legacy non-translatable diagnostic messages and translatable messages. Non-translatable messages are just Strings. Translatable messages are just a &'static str with the identifier of the Fluent message (sometimes with an additional &'static str with an attribute).

DiagMessage never needs to be interacted with directly: DiagMessage constants are created for each diagnostic message in a Fluent resource (described in more detail below), or DiagMessages will either be created in the macro-generated code of a diagnostic derive.

rustc_error_messages::SubdiagMessage is similar, it can correspond to a legacy non-translatable diagnostic message or the name of an attribute to a Fluent message. Translatable SubdiagMessages must be combined with a DiagMessage (using DiagMessage::with_subdiagnostic_message) to be emitted (an attribute name on its own is meaningless without a corresponding message identifier, which is what DiagMessage provides).

Both DiagMessage and SubdiagMessage implement Into for any type that can be converted into a string, and converts these into non-translatable diagnostics - this keeps all existing diagnostic calls working.


Additional context for Fluent messages which are interpolated into message contents needs to be provided to translatable diagnostics.

Diagnostics have a set_arg function that can be used to provide this additional context to a diagnostic.

Arguments have both a name (e.g. "what" in the earlier example) and a value. Argument values are represented using the DiagArgValue type, which is just a string or a number. rustc types can implement IntoDiagArg with conversion into a string or a number, and common types like Ty<'tcx> already have such implementations.

set_arg calls are handled transparently by diagnostic derives but need to be added manually when using diagnostic builder APIs.


rustc makes a distinction between the "fallback bundle" for en-US that is used by default and when another locale is missing a message; and the primary fluent bundle which is requested by the user.

Diagnostic emitters implement the Emitter trait which has two functions for accessing the fallback and primary fluent bundles (fallback_fluent_bundle and fluent_bundle respectively).

Emitter also has member functions with default implementations for performing translation of a DiagMessage using the results of fallback_fluent_bundle and fluent_bundle.

All of the emitters in rustc load the fallback Fluent bundle lazily, only reading Fluent resources and parsing them when an error message is first being translated (for performance reasons - it doesn't make sense to do this if no error is being emitted). rustc_error_messages::fallback_fluent_bundle returns a std::lazy::Lazy<FluentBundle> which is provided to emitters and evaluated in the first call to Emitter::fallback_fluent_bundle.

The primary Fluent bundle (for the user's desired locale) is expected to be returned by Emitter::fluent_bundle. This bundle is used preferentially when translating messages, the fallback bundle is only used if the primary bundle is missing a message or not provided.

There are no locale bundles distributed with the compiler, but mechanisms are implemented for loading them.

  • -Ztranslate-additional-ftl can be used to load a specific resource as the primary bundle for testing purposes.
  • -Ztranslate-lang can be provided a language identifier (something like en-US) and will load any Fluent resources found in $sysroot/share/locale/$locale/ directory (both the user provided sysroot and any sysroot candidates).

Primary bundles are not currently loaded lazily and if requested will be loaded at the start of compilation regardless of whether an error occurs. Lazily loading primary bundles is possible if it can be assumed that loading a bundle won't fail. Bundle loading can fail if a requested locale is missing, Fluent files are malformed, or a message is duplicated in multiple resources.