Language Supplementation and Master Data
This post captures a few quick notes about supporting multiple languages in your SAP implementation, and perhaps a surprise or two if you haven’t been down this road before.
A recent project required master data with descriptions in multiple languages:
- 1X Spanish Mexico
- 3E English Canada
- 3F French Canada
- 6X Spanish Puerto Rico
There’s nothing surprising or special about adding a language or two. Language-specific texts are common throughout the SAP application. You might find useful as reference:SAP Note 73606 – Supported Languages and Code Pages. The SAP Note includes handy attachments that list the available languages, such as language keys 1X and 3E.
SPRAS – Language Key
One surprise — for me — was the unconverted value of Language Key.
SAP Table T002 lists Language Keys. As you may know, T002-SPRAS (Language Key) is a 1-character value and the value is case-sensitive.
For processes such as data migration and integration, we often indicate Language by passing a value for SPRAS. We don’t usually use LAISO (2-Character SAP Language Code) or LANGU_ISO (Language according to ISO 639).
Have a look at table T002 where LAISO = 1X (Spanish Mexico), and have a look at the unconverted value of SPRAS:
That’s a funny looking character, isn’t it?
This is explained in SAP Note 895560 – Support for languages only available in Unicode systems.
Background information: 1-letter vs. 2-letter language keys
Please note that the internal representations of some languages are Korean characters; you will see such values e.g. in table T002. These characters are used internally only, the user interface shows 2-letter language keys (upper case). They correspond in most cases to the ISO 639-2 alpha-2 language code (lower case). Example: The ISO639-2 alpha-2 code for Vietnamese is “vi”, SAP’s corresponding two letter language key is “VI”.
The mapping between the internal 1-letter language keys and the external 2-letter representation is defined in the table T002. If you see a (Korean) 1-letter language key, for example in a trace file, you can look up the 2-letter representation and the name of the language from table T002. Use transaction SE16 and paste the 1-letter key into the input field for ‘SPRAS’. The input field has space for two characters, but accepts also the 1-letter key. When you press ‘Return’, the 2-letter representation occurs in the input field. When you press ‘Execute (F8)’, the corresponding line of table T002 is displayed, including the name of the language in field ‘SPTXT’.
Conversion Function Module
Standard function modules for conversion of SPRAS:
Function module CONVERSION_EXIT_ISOLA_INPUT, used to convert SPRAS, returns the same Korean character when checking 1X (Spanish_MX).
Language Supplementation is the bit that Master Data Aficionados may find particularly interesting.
It’s described in SAP Note 1508122 – Installation and troubleshooting of languages in SAP systems, where we learn that Language Supplementation is relevant not only for screen field labels, but also for master data!
For example, consider a Material with a description maintained only in English. If a user logs on with Language 1X (Spanish Mexico) and a language-specific material description is not found, then the system displays material description of the supplemental language.
Language Supplementation: In the above picture, a user logged in with 1X – Spanish Mexico. There is no 1X description maintained for this Material, so the English description is displayed.
What’s more, when you create a PO when logged in with language 1X, English description is displayed if 1X description is not maintained.
Because language supplementation is relevant for master data (as shown above) this may reduce requirement to maintain values in all supported language when a translated value is not available.
To list the installed languages in your system, use T-Code SE38 to execute program RSCPINST.
- SAP Note 18601 – Frequently asked questions about language transport
- SAP Note 352941 – Consultation: Languages and Support Packages
- SAP Note 1508122 – Installation and troubleshooting of languages in SAP systems
- SAP Note 1375438 – Globalization Collection Note
Nice Blog. Just one question: To my understanding ISO 639-2 represent an ISO language key with 3 characters and ISO 639-1 the 2 characters format.