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Re: <q> and commas

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2008 11:23:25 -0500
Cc: "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <0A63BD2D-DB65-4D50-B74E-360F304A342C@robburns.com>
To: "Justin James" <j_james@mindspring.com>

Hi Justin,

On Oct 29, 2008, at 7:30 AM, Justin James wrote:

>
> Let's suppose for a moment that we decide to keep the behavior of  
> <q>, to
> automatically generate quote marks. What about the comma at the end  
> of the
> quote that quotations require?
>
> Proper English (and other languages) require a comma to be added at  
> the end
> of quotes that do not end with an exclamation point or a question  
> mark (or,
> I suppose, an ellipse). Additionally, it is often required that the  
> quote be
> preceded by a comma.
>
> Examples:
> * Scotty said, "I cannot change the laws of physics Captain!" in a  
> very
> tense voice.
> * When my girlfriend said, "will you marry me?" I almost fainted.
> * I was about to tell him, "I can't do that," but I didn't want to  
> sound
> like HAL.
> * The box said, "... contains trans fats, saturated fats, unsaturated
> fats..." which clearly makes this unsuitable for children to eat.
>
> So, what should HTML do about this? If we've decided that HTML  
> should insert
> the appropriate quotation marks which function purely as  
> presentational
> delimiters, then I propose that it should also add the commas.

I don't think HTML should do anything about this. I think the CSS WG  
should be working on this (as I've proposed in the past[1]). As a  
semantic language, HTML is only responsible for providing authors a  
way to markup the semantics of a quotation. CSS should provide authors  
with a way to present those quotations in conventional ways.

Incidentally the placement of punctuation within the quotations or  
alternatively outside the quotations varies even in English, from one  
style manual to another. That means that without providing a  
presentationally independent way to markup quotations (as you're  
proposing), HTML makes it impossible for authors to markup a document  
without first knowing the presentational guidelines towards which the  
author is writing the document. That is a key problem with not  
maintaining the separation of concerns.

You're example here underscores the importance of the separation of  
concerns. Yet you're trying to use that example to show that we should  
not adhere to that separation of concerns. The diversity of quotation  
presentation underscores the need for HTML to provide a presentation  
independent mechanism for marking up quotations and does not support  
the notion that we should require authors to know the presentational  
conventions before writing (marking up) the document.

Take care,
Rob

[1]: <http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/AddedAttributeQuotationMarks#head-b0bc97397b12215a701e42aa6dec3dc177d8de80 
 >
Received on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 16:24:03 GMT

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