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RE: meta content-language

From: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 17:08:48 +0100
To: "'Ian Hickson'" <ian@hixie.ch>, "'Henri Sivonen'" <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Cc: "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>, <public-i18n-core@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002201c8fe28$0954abb0$1bfe0310$@org>

In the I18n Activity we considered the alternative ways  of declaring
language for a long time, and the result of our thinking is summed up at 

http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-http-and-lang

http://www.w3.org/TR/i18n-html-tech-lang/#ri20050208.095812479



We also have some (slightly more extensive) tests in this area at 

http://www.w3.org/International/tests/sec-lang-decl-0.html

and a summary of results as of late 2004 for 5 browsers on XP.

http://www.w3.org/International/tests/results/lang-decl


I would recommend that we keep the language attributes for declaring the
default language of the content (the text-processing language) and not muddy
the waters by using meta Content-Language declarations fulfill a similar
role, because:
1. the acceptable values are different and the meta approach is incompatible
with declaring the text-processing language
2. the meta approach is really not used by anything according to the tests I
did
3. the question of inheritance is unclear when using the meta statement for
declaring the text-processing language

If the meta statement continues to be allowed, I suggest that it is used in
the same way as a Content-Language declaration in the HTTP header, ie. as
metadata about the document as a whole, but that such usage is kept separate
from use for defining the language of a range of content. As far as I can
tell, although Frontpage uses it and people on the Web recommend its use, it
has no effect at all on content, and wouldn't be missed if it were dropped.

I also think that we should avoid introducing the Content-Language pragma as
yet another way of declaring the default text-processing language of the
document since [a] it's already complicated enough to explain to authors how
to set up language information, [b] Google surveys show that over recent
years people have begun to use <html lang=... for this (as we've been
recommending), and [c] it's unnecessary duplication. 

Also, the Content language selection algorithm in 4.2.5.3 makes no mention
of <html lang=.. as a way of identifying the default language, which it
actually does if it is present, since it has higher priority than HTTP
metadata.

Hope that helps,
RI

============
Richard Ishida
Internationalization Lead
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)

http://www.w3.org/International/
http://rishida.net/



> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of Ian Hickson
> Sent: 12 August 2008 11:04
> To: Henri Sivonen
> Cc: HTML WG
> Subject: Re: meta content-language
> 
> 
> On Thu, 17 Apr 2008, Henri Sivonen wrote:
> >
> > 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.
> 
> Added Content-Language pragma.
> 
> --
> Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
> http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
> Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 14 August 2008 16:09:24 GMT

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