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Re: Cleaning House

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Mon, 07 May 2007 18:21:34 +1000
Message-ID: <463EE18E.5040209@lachy.id.au>
To: Murray Maloney <murray@muzmo.com>
CC: www-html@w3.org, public-html@w3.org

Murray Maloney wrote:
> Will somebody help me out here? I don't know how I can be any clearer
> about fact that italic and bold are merely forms of emphasis, and 
> therefore,
> <i> and <b> are synonyms for <em> and <strong>.

Actually, no, that's a fallacy.  That's like trying to argue that a 
square is a form of rectangle, so square is a synonym for rectangle. 
Clearly, that is not the case.

The reason that <i> and <b> could be considered synonymous with <em> and 
<strong>, respectively, has to do with them being used largely 
interchangeably with each other in reality, and very little to do with 
their actual definitions.

However, it's reasonable to hypothesise that there would be 
significantly more non-emphasis-usage of <i> than there would be usage 
for emphasis, and similarly for <b>.

The pragmatic approach is to specify that <i> and <b> convey unspecified 
semantics, which are to be determined by the reader in the context of 
their use.  In other words, although they don't convey specific 
semantics by themselves, they indicate that that the content is somehow 
distinct from its surroundings and leaves the interpretation of the 
semantics up to the reader to determine from the context.

Context is effectively how users distinguish between italics used for 
emphasis and the variety of other uses, so providing a couple of 
catch-all elements for the remaining cases that don't have specific 
elements isn't all that bad.

The separation of presentation and semantics isn't a goal in itself that 
needs to be strictly adhered to.  Rather, it's just a means to an end 
and if that end can be reached without a strict separation, then so be it.

This will be my last post on the topic of b and i for this thread.  I 
really hope we can move on from this relatively pointless, yet endless 
debate about what colour to paint the bike shed.

-- 
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
Received on Monday, 7 May 2007 08:21:52 GMT

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