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language may refer to human (or natural) languages or computer (often programming) languages.

If you are looking for wiki pages in other languages, see:

Why marking up

Before you consider marking up your page with the appropriate language-tags, consider why you are marking up. Don't just mark up because you can markup.


When marking up a h-entry of a post with a lang attribute, you enable users of a reader to filter out a certain language they don't speak. Thus making it possible to follow a user only in a specific language you speak.

Pelle Wessman on chat: "on Twitter I often don't follow people that tweet too much in a language I don't understand and I hold back on tweeting in swedish because I know it might likewise annoy others"

Twitter does filter on language in Search, but not on the timeline.

Screen readers / text to speach

When someone uses a screen reader, the marked up language can be used to select the right pronunciation rules.

  • This post by Sebastiaan Andeweg is a Dutch transcription of English and would thus be best marked up as 'nl', to guide screen readers toward the right pronunciation.
  • Martijn van der Ven used to mark up his name with lang="nl" to guide screen readers towards the right pronunciation of his name.


Translation software can translate certain posts or texts if it knows the language.

  • Most translation software can probably detect the language too?

How to mark up

You can specify the language of a HTML document, or a part of it, by using the lang="??" attribute, where ?? is the language-code for your language. For English, this is en, en-GB or en-US.

HTML also allows you to mark the language of the target of a hyperlink using the hreflang attribute.

HTML 5 has also introduced a translate attribute that allows you to specify that a piece of text ought to not be automatically translated.

  • There are thoughts on how to parse lang in Microformats.

Language detection

Christian Weiske uses language detection to automatically create the <html lang="??"> attribute for blog posts from the post's title.


Q: Why detect instead of adding manually?

  • Less tedious, less prone to errors

Q: Why detect yourself, if others can detect too?

  • Because sometimes they don't, but do things with the lang-attribute.
  • Detect once while publishing vs. detect again and again and again and again

See Also