# Elegant way to write multilingual document

We want to generate a document that contains parts in different languages (e.g. Dutch, French and English). The problem is that these languages have different hyphen patterns and notations (e.g. in French one writes a space before a colon).

Is there an elegant way to swap between languages, something like:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[dutch,english,french]{babel}
\begin{document}
\begin{english}
The list contains three items: one, two, and three.
\end{english}
\begin{dutch}
De lijst bevat drie elementen: \'e\'en, twee en drie.
\end{dutch}
\begin{french}
La liste contient trois \'el\'ements: un, deux et trois.
\end{french}
\end{document}

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It's explained in the documentation. I don't know if this is the optimal way to do it, but you could use \begin{otherlanguage}{dutch} … \end{otherlanguage} instead of \begin{dutch} … \end{dutch}. EDIT: Although it recommends to enclose that environment in another pair of braces {…}… so there might be a better way. And, of course, you can define your own environments based upon these. –  Manuel Jun 12 at 12:29
There is no space before of the colon in your french example. Or am I blind? Beside that I'm not sure if it is true that this rule holds for french texts. Hence, this should'nt be a problem, which means that you can just go ahead with the babel environments. –  Ruben Oct 15 at 16:12

I don't know if this is the best solution, but I simply use

\selectlanguage{spanish}

and

\selectlanguage{english}

to switch between English and Spanish as needed.

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Welcome to TeX.SX! –  Adam Liter Oct 15 at 15:04
Although I've just read that \begin{otherlanguage}{spanish} and \end{otherlanguage} could be preferable, but not sure yet about the difference. In both cases, text such as "Figure" and "Table" in captions will be in the selected language. –  Mike Oct 15 at 15:05
@Mike, you are able to edit an existing answer. As far as your comment provides additional information that is relevant for the answer, you should make use of this ability. –  Ruben Oct 15 at 16:15