On the official docs about Install a language there is a warning:

Never change the default language, otherwise things will break!

I wonder what exactly this means because there is no explanation about it. I have searched and only found this.

I changed the default language and updated the translations about two weeks ago and haven't seen any warning or error yet but I'm still looking for some documentation since the site is going on production.

  • 2
    I am maintaining quite a few multilingual Drupal sites and even though it's very rare, I did change the default language a couple of times. In most cases this happens when the site owner decides to add a second language after quite some content has already been created. The main problem is if you worked with translations that the default language is the source language for (interface) translations. If changed, the stored translations won't apply no more.
    – Paul
    Nov 26, 2014 at 10:42

1 Answer 1


The main problem used to be i18n and all the things that it translates.

Most of those (like taxonomy terms, fields, node types, menus), do not have an explicitly language assignment like nodes do. So the original strings are assumed to be in the default language (unlike interface strings, where the original is always en).

If the old default language was english and you change it to german, then i18n will no longer translate them to german on the german site but will try to translate them from english to english.

i18n added a workaround for this problem, on one of the many settings pages can be controlled if a different language than the default should be used as that original language. That's not a perfect solution, because it means that the site admins must create the original fields, node types, menu links and terms (assuming that i18n_string is used to translate them) in english and then translate them to german.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.