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Fallback languages

LingoHub's fallback language feature is a great tool for localization. A fallback language is a language that will be used when a text segment is empty upon export, e.g., due to a missing translation. When activated, fallback languages ensure that empty text segments will be filled with content from another language. Fallback languages can be set for target languages only.

What is covered in this article:

How does the fallback language feature work?

The fallback language feature is activated upon starting an export. Two conditions must be met for fallback languages to be activated:

  • A fallback language must have been set for the target language(s).
  • One or more text segments of the target language(s) are empty.

When exporting, the fallback language feature will fill the empty text segments with text from the defined fallback language. This ensures that no empty text segments are exported.

The example below illustrates how the fallback language feature works:
In the example we use British English (en-GB) as a source language and localize our content for German (de-DE) and Austrian German (de-AT). Before the export, the text segment in the de-AT is empty.

Text segment Language Fallback language
de-AT (= target language) de-DE
Kaffee de-DE (= target language) en-GB
coffee en-GB (= source language) -

Upon exporting, LingoHub will automatically detect that the text segment for de-AT is empty. It will check for the fallback language in German (de-DE), see that it is not empty and export the following:

Text segment Language
Kaffee de-AT
Kaffee de-DE
coffee en-US

Should your fallback language also be empty, the fallback language of your fallback language will be used. LingoHub automatically searches for fallback languages until the source language has been reached. In the example above, this would mean that if de-DE is also empty, LingoHub would then export coffee for all three languages.

If the source language text segment is also empty, the text segment will either be skipped or it will be exported as empty. Learn how to change this workflow for source languages with our help center article on export settings.

The flowchart below illustrates how the workflow for target languages is carried out.

Workflow fallback languages for target languages

Managing the fallback language settings

The fallback language settings for each target language can be managed in the dashboard.

To access the fallback language settings, follow the steps below:

  1. Click dashboard in the top navigation bar.
  2. Select a project from the left side panel. You will be redirected to the project's dashboard.
  3. Click the three dots on the right side of a target language. Fallback language dashboard
  4. Click on edit in the drop-down menu.
  5. Select your fallback language in the pop-up window. Set fallback language
  6. Click save changes.

Use cases for the fallback language feature

Fallback languages can boost your translation efforts. You should use fallback languages when:

  1. localizing to pluricentric languages (e.g., British, American, Australian English or Austrian, Swiss, and standard German).
  2. working with brand related data with similar text segments but different brand names.

Caution for uploads

For uploads, use the fallback language text segments with caution.

We advise you to not upload exported text segments again, after having used the fallback language feature. When uploading, your empty text segments will be overwritten. There is no setting to change this behavior.

The example below illustrates what would happen, when you upload your target languages back to LingoHub.

  1. Data before the export:
    Text segment Language Fallback language
    de-AT de-DE
    Apfel de-DE en-GB
    Apple en-GB -
  2. Export data/import data
    Text segment Language
    Apfel de-AT
    Apfel de-DE
    Apple en-GB
  3. Data after import
    Text segment Language Fallback language
    Apfel de-AT de-DE
    Apfel de-DE en-GB
    Apple en-GB -

As you can see, LingoHub will automatically overwrite your previously empty text segment in the de-AT language. The fallback language workflow will not work anymore for the de-AT variant as it has been filled with content.

We therefore advise you to only export data when using fallback languages, unless you are sure you want to overwrite previously empty text segments with fallback language translations.


Congratulations! You finished the article on the fallback language feature. If there's anything we can help you with, please get in touch with our support.

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