Uploading video to YouTube in an unsupported language - best practices?

I am not sure who to address my question, but I work with Jesus Film/Cru. I am one of the YouTube channel managers. As you know, Jesus Film has been translated in 1,800+ languages. Problem is, YouTube only supports about 196 languages.

Can you give me the names of any other people or ministries who may know, or have any recommendations, on best practices of uploading videos to YouTube that have been dubbed in languages that YouTube does not currently support? Specifically, when YouTube asks, “what is the spoken language in this video”? For example, if we upload the JESUS film dubbed/spoken in “Dhivehi”, but “Dhivehi” is not in YouTube’s limited pulldown menu, what language should be chosen?

Related to the same question, when adding “translated subtitles” to a different video (let’s say to the English JESUS video), what language should be selected of the text displayed (ie: “Dhivehi”) when the desired language is not in YouTube’s list of supported languages?

Please reply with someone who may have some suggestions.
Thank you!
Partnering with you,
Howard Crutsinger

YouTube’s instructions: Change the language of your uploaded video:

  • I didn’t know which category to choose for this post. Someone can adjust it, as needed.

Is this something you could address? Or direct to the appropriate person?

I figure IMS must do this all the time.

I’ve received the answer via a long and complex email, so I’m going to forward that to you rather than attempt to convert it to the format of this forum.

I’m interested in knowing what the summary best practice is.

Kind regards,


BTW this topic is now “unlisted” because it isn’t on-topic (New Product Ideas), but being unlisted allows the conversation to continue.

Turns out, just pasting the email content works pretty well.
So here it is for posterity:

Ah, yes. Good question. Technically “best” practice doesn’t have to imply it is good. It’s just the best we have so far. : )

The way I try to look at this question is to wonder what YouTube is trying to get at. I am guessing that from their perspective they want to assist the user so that if they speak one of the supported languages the metadata about the video should be in their language. It actually used to be that you could add additional metadata languages. But with the new YouTube Studio they have removed multiple language options for basic description information. Now the Video details have only a single field in whatever language you put it in.

So for example this video is in Yuracare, a language of Bolivia. Obviously Yuracare is not one of the supported languages in YouTube—which basically means that no one is going to have a browser or operating system in the Yuracare language. The way I address this is to guess what operating system is a person from Bolivia who speaks Yuracare likely to be using? Probably Spanish . So I make my metadata description in the basic description fields in Spanish. If happened to speak Yuracare I might ALSO add this to the Spanish description to attract monolingual Yuracare speakers. But usually I don’t have access to those descriptions in the indigenous language and we have a stock set of videos for which we have the translations in 6 major languages. So we pick the translation that is most likely to be used in that region. That’s about the best we can do in a generic way.

This is how it will appear when searching for this video in YouTube—notice the description is in Spanish, what I put into the description field in YouTube Studio. (A bit of a surprise that it has already been watched 27 times since uploaded 5 days ago!)

Then when it comes to CC (Close Caption subtitles) I again ask the question of what language would their browser most likely default to for CC. Probably Spanish. So when I add subtitle files I make sure the Original video language is set to what might be most common in Bolivia ( Spanish ) and add the subtitle file to there. You have to have the language selected in order to then add subtitles to that language configuration.

I go to the “ More options ” tab and change the Original video language, subtitles, and CC to Spanish (Latin America) first, then upload the subtitle file in the indigenous language—one file for each video.

I might find any kind of automated subtitle translations appear in the list (thank you, YouTube and Google translate—NOT!)—maybe Korean, or German, or even English, etc. These are completely erroneous and would be extremely confusing for the viewer. So I always remove them from the list.

Here is the YouTube English by YouTube (automatic) subtitles in this example in Yanesha’—completely trash about some Nietzche monastery in El Paso!—this is actually the text from John

So if the user switched on the subtitles the default might be to the English subtitle— unless I upload my own “Spanish” subtitles which would most likely be the default language for their browser.

If the user was observant enough they might discover that they could switch to “Spanish” subtitles instead of English and then would see the titles (text of John) in Yanesha’ that I uploaded.

And then I click on the English by YouTube (automatic) subtitle and select delete from the options so there is no confusion or possibility that the useless English CC might accidentally appear.

It would be possible to have subtitles in additional languages like Spanish or English, by first changing the video language to English for example, then uploading another subtitle file that I create—In English obviously in this example. This would then appear as the set of subtitles that would be used if the viewer changed their configuration settings to use that language subtitle. But this starts to get confusing if you have an indigenous language that is using “Spanish” as its video language and then you also try to add a real Spanish subtitle collection. You might then need to use alternate “Spanish” language options—that would be confusing and difficult to anticipate or expect the user to figure that out. And the point is to help the indigenous speaker—so I always remove any other CC title option that might automatically appear on this list.

Otherwise the user will then have alternate subtitle options to choose from when viewing the video. Good luck on that!

Okay, now you know everything I know about this. We have been doing this for thousands of videos in the ScriptureEarth YouTube channel.

I’m always open to other suggestions of how we might address this.

Thanks Andrew and John! This information was helpful to me.