language (HTML attribute)

Depr. Version
Yes N/A
Browser support (more…)
IE5.5+ FF1+ SA1.3+ OP9.2+ CH2+
Full Full Full Buggy Full




The language attribute tells the browser which scripting language is to be used inside the script block (or in the file referred to by the src attribute, as shown in the example). It may be the name of the scripting language, or a version-specific implementation of the language (see the values below).

Note that the language attribute is nonstandard, and harks back to the days of what were known as the “browser wars.” The appropriate way to identify the contents of the script element is through the type attribute (for example, you might specify the content as "text/javascript"), and use JavaScript object/feature detection techniques within the script rather than assume that all browsers which support a given version of a scripting language support all of the features of that language—no questions asked.


In this example, a series of script blocks are being used to identify the browser’s script capability:

<script language="JavaScript1.2">
<script language="JavaScript1.5">
<script language="JavaScript3.5">
document.write("3.5 Does not exist yet");
<script language="wibblewobble">
document.write("No such language");
<script language="VBscript">
document.write("VB script");


The values that can be used in this attribute are:

  • "JavaScript", "JavaScript1.1", "JavaScript1.2", "JavaScript1.3"
  • "JScript"
  • "VBScript"
  • "vbs"


Internet Explorer Firefox Safari Opera Chrome
5.5 6.0 7.0 8.0 1.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 3.5 1.3 2.0 3.1 4.0 9.2 9.5 10.0 2.0
Full Full Full Full Full Full Full Full Full Full Full Full Full Buggy Buggy Buggy Full

Using the test shown in the example, most browsers behaved as expected, running only the scripts that they should be capable of running. Opera (all versions) didn’t attempt to run the code inside the last two script blocks, but incorrectly ran the third one (the non-existent JavaScript 3.5 language), However, if the script tag also includes type=”text/javascript”, then the language attribute is completely ignored—all of the scripts in the example above would run regardless.

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