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Re: Brainstorming - abbreviations

From: Laurens Holst <lholst@students.cs.uu.nl>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 02:16:19 +0900
Message-ID: <45F97F63.4030401@students.cs.uu.nl>
To: Colin Lieberman <colin@cactusflower.org>
CC: Andrew Sidwell <takkaria@gmail.com>, public-html@w3.org
Colin Lieberman schreef:
>> I object to a "pronounce" attribute, on the grounds that I say "SQL" as
>> initials. :)  To make the point more general -- whilst such an attribute
>> might be useful for screenreaders to some extent, different people say
>> things different ways.  If one website uses "sequel" and one uses "ess
>> cue ell", I think that would be confusing.
>>
>
> Fair enough, but if we were chatting face to face, and I asked you 
> what your favorite 'sequel' server was, would you really be confused? 
> I think most people are quite clever enough to handle those sorts of 
> common variations. But, maybe  SQL was a bad example. An 
> author-specified pronunciation would be useful for common 
> abbreviations like Mr., Sr., etc. (both as an example, and literally 
> :) which currently grate on the ears when read by screen readers. 

I think you can expect screenreaders to have a big list of abbreviations 
and their pronunciation. And if an abbreviation is not on their list, it 
can make an educated guess, or the user can add an entry to the list if 
it really bothers them. And otherwise, even if the pronunciation is 
wrong, it’s still understandable—so what, I also say ‘ess-cue-ell’ 
instead of ‘sequel’ (I’m Dutch, sorry for that ;p) and people get what I 
mean :).

The only thing that would cover all abbreviations completely is to add 
some attribute with a indicating how it’s pronounced using phonetic 
alphabet. Because any other scheme simply doesn’t cover it. Do you 
really think a screenreader can correctly pronounce SQL as ‘sequel’ just 
because it’s got an <acronym> tag around it? It will more likely become 
something like ‘escuel’ or ‘sekkel’ or whatever. Similarly, SPARQL – 
‘sparkle’, SCSI – ‘scuzzy’, XUL – ‘zool’. Not to mention that many 
abbreviations have no single way of pronunciation. Take Linux as an 
example (although not really an abbreviation, I suppose), which can be 
pronounced like ‘leenooks’, ‘linnuks’, ‘lynuks’, etc. [1]

In practice, you cannot expect people to add that level of detail for 
abbreviations. Any other indication of pronunciation is only 
complicating things and not providing anything close to complete 
coverage. Therefore, <acronym> should go, and <abbr> should stay simple 
and only have a title attribute for the purpose of indicating its actual 
meaning, which is after all what’s really important, in case people do 
not know the abbreviation.

Let the speech software handle the problem. They are very likely already 
doing it anyway, judging by the amount of websites that actually uses 
<abbr> or <acronym> (read: very few do).


~Grauw

[1] http://www.safalra.com/science/linguistics/linux-pronunciation/

-- 
Ushiko-san! Kimi wa doushite, Ushiko-san nan da!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Laurens Holst, student, university of Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Website: www.grauw.nl. Backbase employee; www.backbase.com.




Received on Thursday, 15 March 2007 17:16:45 GMT

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