Chapter 4. Language Overrides

We are obviously not conversant with all of the possible needs, so the guide has to be slightly generic in its approach, but the following are some general guidelines. We are not concerned with the creation of 'new' language sets but merely with the creation of a few strings to replace some of those that already exist that do not meet our current need.

Some of the front end 'labels/titles' may require changing and this is also relatively easily achievable.

It is not possible to determine from the email address where the site is located. It is possible that the default language is not English and there may already be a fully converted language pack available. If not there are a few partial language packs which may or may not require completing. This is not something that we ourselves can complete since the chances our knowing the language is virtually zero. We would create language overrides for any 'strings' that one requires changing.

To change text in core Joomla or in an extension (other than installing a new language) it is advised to perform a language override in Joomla. To do this one needs to go into the admin backend then in the menu under "Extensions" click on "Language Manager".

Then on the sub menu on the page one comes to click on "Overrides" as shown in the image below.

Figure 4.1. Extension Language Manager Overrides.

Extension Language Manager Overrides.

Click on "New" in the toolbar. Here one can change any string in Joomla. One can use the box on the right to search for a string that appears in the front end. Or if one knows the constant one wishes to override one can immediately enter that in the box on the left-hand-side.

Once one has string it is entered into the "Language Constant" box on the left of the screen. Then type in the textarea beneath the text one wants to display. Once this is done, click "Save and Close" and then repeat the previous step for each of the strings there is a need to override.

Figure 4.2. Extensions Language Manager Overrides: Edit screen.

Extensions Language Manager Overrides: Edit screen.

This may seem like a hard way of doing it rather than simply editing the language string files - but the advantage is that when one performs an update an extension/Joomla these strings won't get overwritten and generally, it's easier to do it this way once than it is to do it every time Joomla/the extension gets updated and having to edit the .ini file again.

How do language overrides work:

When first used Joomla will create an ‘overrides’ folder under the language folder upon the site. It then creates a file named zz-ZZ.override.ini within that folder, where zz-ZZ is the language criteria. i.e en-GB for an English translation. By using this mechanism when a component or Joomla is updated the contents of this file will remain unchanged.

Most of the time one will want to overwrite the default language strings. The quickest way is to click on the button New, which brings one to a screen where one enters the desired string to override and the desired value. A language string consists of two parts, a constant and a value. If we know the names and values we can insert them into the field on the left of the screen.

Figure 4.3. Language Manager Overrides: Edit screen.

Language Manager Overrides: Edit screen.

If we do not know the value we can search for the value and then change it.

Figure 4.4. Language Manager Overrides: Edit screen (2).

Language Manager Overrides: Edit screen (2).

We have specifically illustrated changing a ‘ISSUE TRACKER’ string above, and when we refresh our front end screen we can immediately see that the change has taken effect.


If there is any form of site or browser cache in use then it may be necessary to flush these cache's before the change may be seen.

Figure 4.5. Language Manager Overrides: Display example.

Language Manager Overrides: Display example.


For those sites that already have performed custom language translations, then it would be possible to retain these changes by copying the changes directly into the overrides file itself prior to upgrading the component. In this way one preserves the changes already made. It is assumed that there are suitable backup copies available in case there is a problem.


It is possible to directly edit the language override file but if this is done, then care has to be taken to ensure that the structure of the file is retained. No syntax errors are permitted, since if there are any errors if is possible that the whole file will be apparently ignored, and NONE of the changes may be visible.

The use of this feature seems to be the perfect way for a site to create 'language overrides' (and also create custom language strings). They provide the ideal way to change the existing translations or to create ones own and insert them with php anywhere in the site webpages. Now when updating Joomla or even component there is no worry about loosing the changes, because they are saved in a separate file. It is a great addition when using template, module or component overrides.

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