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The purpose of this template is to indicate that a given span of text belongs to a particular language (see language code). It often makes no visible changes to the text, but can help web browsers choose the right font, screen readers use the right pronunciation and more, as explained here.

{{lang|Language tag|Text}}

Use ISO 639 language codes. Example (where fr is the code for French):

* She said: "{{lang|fr|''Je suis française.''}}"

Results in your browser:

  • She said: "Je suis française."

This template also includes a categorisation link when used by main namespace pages, therefore it should not be included inside a wikilink. This error may not be immediately obvious if it is used via another template namespace page. If appropriate, the entire wikilink may be fed to the template instead: {{lang|ar|[[Arabic language|العربية]]}}. By default, this template will place articles into the relevant subcategory of Category:Articles containing non-English language text. To suppress this, add the parameter |nocat=true.

There are also versions of this template for specific languages that also print the language's name, intended to be used the first time that language is used in the article. For example, "{{lang-es|español}}" and "{{lang-ru|русский язык}}" give "Spanish: español" and "Russian: русский язык".

Language subtags can also be used to indicate the writing script or regional variant of a language. According to the W3C, "the golden rule when creating language tags is to keep the tag as short as possible", [1] so such subtags should only be added if there is an important reason to use them. ISO 639‑1 is preferred over ISO 639‑2 and ISO 639‑3.

Indicating writing script

If necessary, add the ISO 15924 code to indicate the script.

For example, Russian is usually written in the Cyrillic script, therefore the 'Cyrl' script code is superfluous and the language code will be ru instead of ru-Cyrl. However, when that text is transliterated the transl code (transliteration) should be used because it isn't the default script for Russian: ru-Latn. Example:

* Moscow ([[Russian language|Russian]]: {{lang|ru|Москва́}}, {{transl|ru|''Moskva''}})

which is the same as

* Moscow ({{lang-ru|Москва́}}, {{transl|ru|''Moskva''}})

Results in your browser:

  • Moscow (Russian: Москва́, Moskva)

Instead of using {{transl|ru|''Moskva''}} the {{lang|ru-Latn|''Moskva''}} can be used, but if you specified a font and a size for the target language in your custom CSS (see Help:User style), the transliteration will appear in that specified style. To specify a transliteration scheme, for example, you are using the ISO 9 transliteration of Cyrillic, use {{transl|ru|ISO|''Moskva''}}:

The IANA maintains a list specifying when the script tag should be suppressed [2]. In some cases, the script must be always specified, like Tajik which can be equally written in Arabic, Latin or Cyrillic alphabets:

* Tajik ({{rtl-lang|tg-Arab|تاجیکی}}, {{transl|tg|''tojikī''}}, {{lang|tg-Cyrl|тоҷикӣ}})

Which results in your browser:

  • Tajik (تاجیکی‎, tojikī, тоҷикӣ)

Note the use of {{rtl-lang}} instead of {{lang}} when using the Arabic script (see below section writing direction).

Undetermined language

The {{lang}} template is not only used to specify the language of foreign words, but also to specify a single symbol or character in a specific script, for example when discussing about a specific writing system. Many times the character/symbol is used in several languages, but when the article refers to the grapheme itself the ISO 639‑2 and ISO 639‑3 language code und for Undetermined language. For example:

The {{lang|und-Hani|字}} Han character has 6 strokes.
The Han character has 6 strokes.

Han characters are used in Chinese, Japanese, sometimes Korean, and formerly Vietnamese, and in this case the character is not used for any specific language. Note that the script code used is Hani, which specifies generic Han characters (Hanzi, Kanji, Hanja).

Compare {{script}}

The {{script|Hani|字}} Han character has 6 strokes.
The Han character has 6 strokes.

Indicating regional variant

In some cases, maybe it will be needed to add ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country codes (specific usage of that country). Of course the three codes can appear in the same tag, for example the code zh-Hant-TW will be used for Chinese text written with Traditional Han characters, containing words or expressions specific to Taiwan. zh-Hans is for simplified. Examples:

* {{lang|zh-Hant-TW|臺灣}}

Results in your browser:

  • 臺灣

Writing direction

{{rtl-lang}} is a specific template for right-to-left languages like Arabic or Hebrew.

For right-to-left paragraphs (as opposed to rtl strings embedded in an English paragraph), use {{rtl-para}}.


  • Web browsers can use the information to choose an appropriate font.
    • This is great for CJK where a character can be given its language-specific shape but will fall back to another form if no appropriate font is found or if the preferred font lacks that character, for example because the language does not make use of that character: see this and this comparison table and screenshot.
  • For accessibility purposes: screen readers need language info to speak text in its correct language.
  • For spell checkers and grammar checkers.
  • To help browsers choosing appropriate quotation marks, and making decisions about hyphenation, ligatures, and spacing.
  • Users can apply styles to languages in their style sheets (useful for editors).
  • Search engines can use this information when indexing text.
  • Facilitates better data-scraping, parsing and re-use.
  • Useful for application developers who re-publish Wikipedia (also see WP:web accessibility guidelines).
  • Useful for research or compiling statistics about language use in Wikipedia.

Applying styles

You can apply CSS styles in your user style sheet. Registered users can put styles into User:XXX/monobook.css, where XXX is the user name.

These examples may work in Internet Explorer 8; prior versions do not support attribute selectors. Alternatively, try another browser such as Firefox.

Example: to apply a font to Russian-language text:

 span[lang|=ru] { font-family: fonteskaya; }

Example: to apply a colour to text marked with any language:

 span[lang] { color: green; }

Do not use quotation marks in your user style sheet; wikitext will screw them up. They are recommended in CSS, but not required other than for font families containing generic-family keywords ('inherit', 'serif', 'sans-serif', 'monospace', 'fantasy', and 'cursive'). See http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/fonts.html#font-family-prop for details.

See also


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