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CodeIgniter – Language Class

Language Class

The Language Class provides functions to retrieve language files and lines of text for purposes of internationalization.

In your CodeIgniter system folder, you will find a language sub-directory containing a set of language files for the english idiom. The files in this directory (system/language/english/) define the regular messages, error messages, and other generally output terms or expressions, for the different parts of the CodeIgniter framework.

You can create or incorporate your own language files, as needed, in order to provide application-specific error and other messages, or to provide translations of the core messages into other languages. These translations or additional messages would go inside your application/language/ directory, with separate sub-directories for each idiom (for instance, ‘french’ or ‘german’).

The CodeIgniter framework comes with a set of language files for the “english” idiom. Additional approved translations for different idioms may be found in the CodeIgniter 3 Translations repositories. Each repository deals with a single idiom.

When CodeIgniter loads language files, it will load the one in system/language/ first and will then look for an override in your application/language/ directory.

Handling Multiple Languages

If you want to support multiple languages in your application, you would provide folders inside your application/language/ directory for each of them, and you would specify the default language in your application/config/config.php.

The application/language/english/ directory would contain any additional language files needed by your application, for instance for error messages.

Each of the other idiom-specific directories would contain the core language files that you obtained from the translations repositories, or that you translated yourself, as well as any additional ones needed by your application.

You would store the language you are currently using, for instance in a session variable.

Sample Language Files



Example of switching languages

$idiom = $this->session->get_userdata('language');
$this->lang->load('error_messages', $idiom);
$oops = $this->lang->line('message_key');


The Language class in CodeIgniter is meant to provide an easy and lightweight way to support multiplelanguages in your application. It is not meant to be a full implementation of what is commonly called internationalization and localization.

We use the term “idiom” to refer to a language using its common name, rather than using any of the international standards, such as “en”, “en-US”, or “en-CA-x-ca” for English and some of its variants.


There is nothing to prevent you from using those abbreviations in your application!

Using the Language Class

Creating Language Files

Language files must be named with _lang.php as the filename extension. For example, let’s say you want to create a file containing error messages. You might name it: error_lang.php

Within the file you will assign each line of text to an array called $lang with this prototype:

$lang['language_key'] = 'The actual message to be shown';


It’s a good practice to use a common prefix for all messages in a given file to avoid collisions with similarly named items in other files. For example, if you are creating error messages you might prefix them with error_

$lang['error_email_missing'] = 'You must submit an email address';
$lang['error_url_missing'] = 'You must submit a URL';
$lang['error_username_missing'] = 'You must submit a username';

Loading A Language File

In order to fetch a line from a particular file you must load the file first. Loading a language file is done with the following code:

$this->lang->load('filename', 'language');

Where filename is the name of the file you wish to load (without the file extension), and language is the language set containing it (ie, english). If the second parameter is missing, the default language set in your application/config/config.php file will be used.

You can also load multiple language files at the same time by passing an array of language files as first parameter.

$this->lang->load(array('filename1', 'filename2'));


The language parameter can only consist of letters.

Fetching a Line of Text

Once your desired language file is loaded you can access any line of text using this function:


Where language_key is the array key corresponding to the line you wish to show.

You can optionally pass FALSE as the second argument of that method to disable error logging, in case you’re not sure if the line exists:

$this->lang->line('misc_key', FALSE);


This method simply returns the line. It does not echo it.

Using language lines as form labels

This feature has been deprecated from the language library and moved to the lang() function of the Language Helper.

Auto-loading Languages

If you find that you need a particular language globally throughout your application, you can tell CodeIgniter to auto-load it during system initialization. This is done by opening the application/config/autoload.php file and adding the language(s) to the autoload array.

Class Reference

load($langfile[, $idiom = ''[, $return = FALSE[, $add_suffix = TRUE[, $alt_path = '']]]])
  • $langfile (mixed) – Language file to load or array with multiple files
  • $idiom (string) – Language name (i.e. ‘english’)
  • $return (bool) – Whether to return the loaded array of translations
  • $add_suffix (bool) – Whether to add the ‘_lang’ suffix to the language file name
  • $alt_path (string) – An alternative path to look in for the language file

Array of language lines if $return is set to TRUE, otherwise void

Return type:


Loads a language file.

line($line[, $log_errors = TRUE])
  • $line (string) – Language line key name
  • $log_errors (bool) – Whether to log an error if the line isn’t found

Language line string or FALSE on failure

Return type:


Fetches a single translation line from the already loaded language files, based on the line’s name.

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