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Re: Cleaning House

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Sun, 6 May 2007 04:21:24 -0700
Message-Id: <A04C077E-B7F6-4F9A-A6AA-83C8CEB89125@apple.com>
Cc: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>, Philip & Le Khanh <Philip-and-LeKhanh@royal-tunbridge-wells.org>, www-html@w3.org, public-html@w3.org
To: Tina Holmboe <tina@greytower.co.uk>


On May 6, 2007, at 4:03 AM, Tina Holmboe wrote:

> On Sun, May 06, 2007 at 12:38:18PM +0200, Anne van Kesteren wrote:
>
>> # Are the semantics defined solely by the specification  
>> (Prescriptivism)
>> # or informed by actual use (Descriptivism)? For human languages,
>> # linguists generally take the Descriptivist approach. This turns  
>> out to
>> # be a more productive way to interpret artifacts in human  
>> languages such
>> # as English.
>
>   "Descriptivism" is of no use what so ever in defining standards and
>   specifications. While humans may - and I say MAY - be able to  
> understand
>   gobbledegook, browsers are not.

So there you go. I think bridging the descriptivist/prescriptivist  
philosophical chasm is probably beyond the scope of this mailing list  
and thus not worth arguing about much further. It took decades to  
settle in the field of linguistics and we're not going to settle it  
quickly in the field of web standards. It's good to recognize the  
difference, but I can't see either side convincing the other.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Sunday, 6 May 2007 11:21:35 GMT

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