This isn't a question about WordPress, but about one of its components: gettext. That's the localization framework that drives all of the translations printed by the __() and _e() functions.
My question is about how gettext expects its input -- if I'm developing in German for example, can I wrap my German messages using this function? Or do the "original" messages always need to be in English?
Some translation engines work based off of a number, e.g. error #123 gets looked up in the English, German, or Japanese file and prints the translated message corresponding to "123". But from what I've read about gettext it seems that it uses English as the common denominator. Is that true? Does anyone know?