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I have a WP site that I installed with the French translation, as provided by Wordpress France, and which is quite accurate. I wanted to apply an English-only theme, which is not using the PO files, but rather has all text hard-coded in the PHP code. I translated all files, but I noticed that when I display the home page, some of the words remain in English, but whenever I display something other than the home page, those are all in French. Is there something either in Wordpress or the theme files that actually make a distinction between the home page and others to display different pieces of text ?

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When every message is hard coded in the theme files there can be no problem with gettext anymore. So, yes, depending on the theme WordPress can use different templates for home and other pages. But no, this has nothing to do with automatic translations. You have simply forgot to translate some strings, possibly in front-page.php or home.php.

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