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I'm editing Prolog files as part of an exploratory project, and some of the files I'm working with have the extension .pl, which is shared by Perl files. Whenever I do work on a Prolog file named [somefile].pl, Vim gives me syntax highlighting and error detection for Perl, rather than Prolog. I could totally disable syntax highlighting for Perl or force .pl to be recognized as Prolog, but I'd like to know if there's a less dictatorial way of fixing the issue. Is there a way I can set the syntax highlighting programmatically, or use some sort of a key combination to tell Vim that I'm editing a Prolog file rather than a Perl file?

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I can only answer the second part of your question. You can tell Vim that you're editing a Prolog file with this command:

:set syntax=prolog

If you never work in Perl, then it wouldn't seem "dictatorial" to add custom configuration in your ~/.vimrc:

autocmd BufNewFile,BufRead *.pl setfiletype prolog syntax=prolog
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    And you could map :set syntax=prolog to something (maybe <Leader>-p). – bsmith89 Feb 4 '15 at 15:38
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You could add the following to the top or the bottom of the file.

%vim: ft=prolog

This will tell Vim to treat the file as a Prolog file.

See “Modelines” in the user manual and :help modeline.

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