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Updated
October 11, 2021

If you use a custom or country-specific language on your site, you can still use the spell checker and automatic translation by mapping it to a supported language.

WPML offers an extensive list of supported languages that work with the automatic translation engines. However, you may need a language on your site that does not appear on the list, or you may want to use a country-specific language. You need to add these as custom languages.

When creating your custom language, you can map it to a similar, supported language. This allows you automatically translate your content into the supported language. Then, when reviewing the translations, you only need to make minor changes instead of translating it all from scratch.

For example, let’s say we use the custom language Swiss German on our site. This is not a supported language for any of our translation engines. However, we can map this to the closest supported language, German.

By mapping the languages together, we can automatically translate the content into German and make only a few changes to make it sound right in Swiss German.

If you do not map a custom language to a supported language, you will not be able to use WPML’s automatic translation or spell check features.

How to Map a Custom Language to a Supported Language

Check out our list of supported languages to see which translation engines and languages are available.

You can add a custom language mapping in 3 places:

In the Setup Wizard

When setting up your site’s languages for the first time, you can decide the mapping as you create your custom language.

Choosing a language mapping in the setup wizard

In the Languages Settings

Go to WPMLLanguages and click Edit Languages. Here, you can see a column with a dropdown menu where you can choose the language mapping for each of your site’s languages.

Choosing a language mapping in the Languages settings

In the Automatic Translation Settings

Go to WPMLTranslation Management and click the Automatic Translation tab. Click Language Mappings.

Click the Pencil icon to add or edit the supported language for each of your site’s languages.

Choosing a language mapping in the Automatic Translation settings

Important Considerations When Mapping Languages

We do not recommend using automatic translation or Translate Everything mode with certain custom language setups:

  1. When a custom, secondary language is mapped to your site’s default language
  2. When multiple secondary languages are mapped to the same supported language

Mapping a Custom, Secondary Language To Your Site’s Default Language

Example: A site with a default language of English and a secondary language of British English, mapped to English

Currently, it is not possible to automatically translate your content because your original language and target language are the same. Automatic translation only works when translating between two different supported languages.

Mapping Multiple Secondary Languages to the Same Supported Language

Example: A site with secondary languages of French and Canadian French, both mapped to French

When you have multiple secondary languages that are mapped to the same language, you are essentially creating identical translation jobs: the same content from the same default language to the same target language.

Normally, WPML’s translation memory can help you save automatic translation credits by remembering and applying translations that were already generated in other places on your site. However, when jobs are created at the same time, the translation memory from one custom language is not yet available for the other. This means it uses automatic translation credits for the translation into each custom language, despite the fact that the translations are the same.

In this case, we do not recommend using Translate Everything mode, and if you want to use automatic translation, we recommend sending the content to translation separately for each custom language. This will allow WPML to use translation memory so you are not charged for the same translations multiple times.