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meta content-language

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 12:48:43 +0300
Message-Id: <805D9CF4-8CB3-46A1-803A-2BBB28DEF663@iki.fi>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

It seems that some authoring tools and authors use <meta http- 
equiv='content-language' content='languagetag'> instead of <html  
lang='languagetag'>.
http://philip.html5.org/data/meta-http-equiv.txt

Based on the usage pattern, I think authors mean to use <meta http- 
equiv='content-language' content='languagetag'> in a way analogous to  
<base href='uri'>. That is, as a declaration that belongs between HTTP  
and the root element in the inheritance chain based on an obvious  
guess about author intent. Moreover, with FrontPage, this isn't  
invisible metadata, because a faulty meta content-language is visible  
to the author as squiggly red spell checker lines.

The spec should probably say something about this.

Issues:

  * Would observing content-language meta Break the Web? Currently  
Firefox 3 beta 5 doesn't observe meta content-language in font  
selection.
Demo baseline (verify that "No lang: 中" and "zh-CN: 中" show up in a  
different font):
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/test/lang.htm8
Content-language demo (compare font with previous):
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/test/moz/content-language.html

  * Would observing HTTP content-language Break the Web? That is, how  
common is it that HTTP servers send bogus content-language picked up  
from the system locale, for example. It's quite usual that the server  
runs as en-US, because the admin wants to maximize the googlability of  
error messages and the applicability of documentation, but the content  
served is something else. Even you en and en-US were flagged as  
untrusted values, it happens that multinational system integrators  
source server setup to another country within Europe, so the person  
who set up a server for Finnish use may have installed the system with  
setting suitable for a Danish keyboard layout for example.

  * The de jure definition of HTTP content-language isn't exactly  
suitable for the lang inheritance chain. However, authors seem to use  
content-language in a lang-like way.

  * What to do when content-language comes with more than one language  
tag?

  * Will only the first occurrence in "*the* head element" count as  
with base?

  * Will a tag without the content attribute count as the first  
occurrence? If so, will content default to "" (unknown)?

-- 
Henri Sivonen
hsivonen@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Received on Thursday, 17 April 2008 09:49:30 GMT

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