My site is almost entirely in English, but with individual pages in different languages. There's one extra page per language other than English, as a single page "this is a summary of the sites information in your language" sort of deal.

I've used the Drupal "language" module to set up some languages and give some nodes a language other than English. I don't really want anything more complicated than this. Specifically I don't want:

  • To translate the entire site to any other language.
  • To allow users to pick their language.
  • To translate anything other than node (single page) content. Menus, site slogan, etc, will always be in English.

When viewing the pages for those nodes, I want to set some CSS classes and in some cases the text direction (rtl for Arabic / Urdu / Hebrew) based on the nodes language.

For some reason, the global $language variable is always set to English, regardless of the node language.

I can get the nodes language from $node->language and work out my CSS classes and text direction with the following code in my page.tpl.php:

    $node_lang = 'en';
    if (isset($node) && isset($node->language)) {
        $node_lang = $node->language;
        $rtl = ($node_lang == 'ar' || $node_lang == 'ur' || $node_lang == 'he');
    $en = ($node_lang == 'en' || $node_lang == 'und');
<div id="content"
    class="primaryContent <?php if($rtl){print "rtl";}?>"
    <?php if ($rtl) { print "dir='rtl'"; } ?>
    <?php if (!$en) { print "lang='$node_lang' xml:lang='$node_lang'"; } ?> >

Is there a simpler or "more recommended" way of doing the above? Doing my own detection of rtl / ltr feels fairly brittle.

1 Answer 1


If $node is the variable containing the node object, you can use code similar to the following one:

$languages = language_list();
if (isset($languages[$node->language])) {
  $rtl = $languages[$node->language]->direction == LANGUAGE_RTL;
  // $direction = $languages[$node->language]->direction ? 'rtl' : 'ltr';

If you need to use the string "rtl" or "ltr" basing on the direction associated with the language, then you can use $direction, instead of $rtl.


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