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Updated
October 11, 2021

WPML stores language, translation, country flag, and string translations in separate tables. You can view these using a database editor such as phpMyAdmin.

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WPML’s Database Model

The following diagram shows the model of the tables that WPML uses:

Diagram of WPML database tables

Language and Translation Table

The table that holds the language and translation information is called icl_translations.

  • Each site content element configured as translatable (post, page, tag, category, custom post type, and custom taxonomies) has an entry in this table. Note: Comments are not translatable but they have a record in icl_translations because they have language information assigned to them.
  • The entry specifies the item’s language and the translation group (element type) it belongs to.
  • Entries of the same translation cluster share the same value in element_type and trid columns.
  • The entry with no source language (NULL) in the same cluster is the original entry.

It has the following rows:

  • translation_id – serial number
  • element_type – the type of the element. This value is explained and retrieved in the hook wpml_element_type.
  • element_id – the ID of the item (post_id for post types, term_taxonomy_id for taxonomy terms)
  • trid – the ID of the translation group
  • language_code – language code of the item
  • source_language_code – if translated, the language of the original item

For example, if we have an English post with ID=3, that is translated to Spanish and the Spanish translation has ID=7, the icl_translations table will look like this:

translation_idelement_typeelement_idtridlanguage_codesource_language_code
1post_post32en NULL
2post_post72esen

* Because the two entries have the same trid value for trid, they are translations of one another. The value itself is not important.

WPML’s icl_translations and associated tables

Country Flag Table

WPML ships with a large collection of country flags. Be aware that associating languages with countries can be problematic. Many languages are spoken (sometimes differently) in different countries. However, country flags are still a helpful visual cue and help visitors spot their language easily.

WPML’s country flags are stored in the res/flags directory and the icl_flags table indicates which flag to return for each country. The columns of the icl_flags table are:

  • id – serial number
  • lang_code – the language code
  • flag – the name of the flag file
  • from_template – “0”: take the flag from WPML’s res/flags folder, “1”: take the flag from the theme directory

If you want to use a different flag, you can upload a custom flag file by going to WPMLLanguages and clicking Edit Languages.

Adding a custom flag

You can use this same Edit Languages page to add a custom language.

String Translation Table

Most WordPress sites include some strings that don’t belong to any item (post, page, tag, category) but still need to be translated – for example, the blog’s tagline.

WPML includes a mechanism called String Translation, to handle these strings.

The strings are kept in the icl_strings table with the following columns:

  • id – serial number
  • language – language
  • context – the string’s context (indicates what the string belongs to)
  • name – name of the string
  • value – the strings value (its contents)
  • string_package_id –  ID of the package that the string belongs to
  • type – type of editor to use when editing the string via the translation editor ( LINE, AREA or VISUAL )
  • title – the title of the string to display in the translation editor
  • status – translation status indicating if the string is fully translated to all languages
  • gettext_context – the context set in the gettext function, eg _x
  • domain_name_context_md5 – unique key to improve lookup performance

Translations of a string are kept in the icl_string_translations table:

  • id – serial number
  • string_id – the ID (serial number) of the string being translated
  • language – the language of the translation
  • status – the status of the translation (complete / not complete)
  • value – the translation itself
  • translator_id – id of translator
  • translation_service – translation service used to translate the string. Can be empty, local or a remote service
  • batch_id – ID of the batch when a string is translated by a translation service
  • translation_date – date of translation
WPML’s icl_strings and icl_string_translations tables