I have a fresh installation of Drupal 8.2.5 and want to use it for mostly Spanish content, but keeping the admin interface in English. /admin/config/regional/language says,

It is not recommended to change the default language on a working site.

And /admin/config/regional/language/detection/selected says,

Changing the site's default language itself might have other undesired side effects.

What will break if I change the default language? Or is a better question to ask, should I want to change the default language? I found this question, but it does not answer my question, aside from also being pre-Drupal8.


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    From Drupal 7 I know that some settings will be saved in the default language. So if we consider the default content type named article and translate that to something else (Artikel in Dutch). Then we switch the default language to Dutch. Then create a new content type Something. Drupal now considers the new name Something to be a Dutch name and it only can be translated to English. I assume not much in this behavior has changed since Drupal 7 and that the same reasoning from the linked question applies. – Neograph734 Jan 28 '17 at 21:30

In Drupal 7 it was total chaos. With Drupal 8 things have improved a lot. It's now possible to switch default language but but there may still be effects:

  • URL alias has a language. Changing default language can bring some strange behavior, especially if some alias was created manually: https://www.drupal.org/node/2484411

  • Configuration entities can end up not having the right language. You will perhaps need to export the configuration and do some manual work like making sure the exported configuration has the right lang code.

  • ...

  • Does that mean the warnings in /admin/config/regional/language and /admin/config/regional/language/detection/selected is wrong and outdated? – Pedro Jan 31 '17 at 22:02
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    You can certainly still have some side effect but the situation has improved. I will try and complete the answer. – gagarine Feb 4 '17 at 0:32

I got some problems with site settings. For example site name changed to "Drupal" while in initial default language (English) it keep the right site name. Fixing this was a real pain. At the end I exported configuration, changed site name in the yml and re-imported it.


Changing the default language affects underlying language settings 'Drupal says "the base language is [X] and a translation of [language term X] is [Y]".'

That's not a message from Drupal, that's my representation of Drupal's thinking process. As a basic example:

  • Your base site default language is English, and you have a taxonomy with a term "Welcome".
  • You translate that into German as "Wilkommen" and French as "Bonjour"

When you switch your base site into German, Drupal says: we have the base term in English of "Welcome", show the German translation of Welcome.

Now, using Domain Locale, you create site B and make German the default language.

According to Drupal now, as the base language is German, when you show the taxonomy term "Welcome", that's in German so it will display "Welcome" and not "Wilkommen".

What's the patch does, then, is keep the underlying site language as English, but adds in an additional setting to say "but what is the real Domain Locale default language" and then uses that in language negotiation.

So if you set the Domain Locale default language as German, it will use that when detecting what language should be served up when going to example.com, but will use English behind the scenes when calculating what the base language of t('Welcome') is.

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