W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > December 2012

Re: The missing Sentence tag

From: Lee Kowalkowski <lee.kowalkowski@googlemail.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2012 22:16:40 +0000
Message-ID: <CAGpS7GPOpUpXJ0KKk2rx3zEkm16DJ9g3eqHUp8U2BD_Yn4ZWhg@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Thomas A. Fine" <fine@head.cfa.harvard.edu>
Cc: public-html <public-html@w3.org>
On 6 December 2012 15:46, Thomas A. Fine <fine@head.cfa.harvard.edu> wrote:

> But since I have an interest in both formatting and semantics, a tag is
> the best choice.

What would the semantic advantage be?  When I teach HTML, I like to be
pragmatic.  So I'm talking to budding web developers, what do I tell them
about this element?  Particularly, when and why should they use it.

> Regardless of the tag, I'm hardly arguing that everyone would use this.
>  It's more effort and only a minority would likely have an interest. This
> could be alleviated by software, where HTML generators could offer default
> sentence parsing and let the user override as needed, sort of like spell
> checking.

With respect to markdown syntax, which seems to be a popular mechanism for
authors.  They don't want to store a corrected HTML version, really.  They
want their markdown syntax to be the only thing they work with, and the
HTML generated from it without any further intervention.  So considering
this, it would seem (in English at least), such a processor would have to
delimit sentences based on . ? ! and maybe : only when followed by
whitespace, perhaps, dare I suggest, two spaces, if separating sentences,
just to make certain.

> The Wikipedia article is a royal mess.  And there are many articles like
> the one you linked, all mostly repeating each others' unsupportable modern
> myths of typography.

I'm going with Wikipedia, and the many articles, like many others will.
 I'm not really that fussed about modern mythology.

One of the myths mentioned in the article you link to says that because
> HTML can't do wide sentence spacing this is proof that wide sentence
> spacing should not be used.

Seems to be a recursive argument I agree, not very convincing. Although the
proportional spacing one is. Isn't it?

> But of course the reason HTML can't conveniently do wide sentence spacing
> is more of a historical accident and a matter of laziness, and is the very
> reason I'm here right now.

It could just be a side effect of ignoring extraneous whitespace, true.
 But the proportional font has been around for longer than HTML, unless I'm

> The irony for me is that the financial pressures that were the real
> motivation for eliminating wide sentence spacing from common practice don't
> really apply to the generation of web content.  The industrial practices of
> the print industry of the last 50-75 years don't save us paper on the web,
> and if anything they lead to less rather than more space for advertising.

I agree.  Neither do the pressures exist on the web that were the real
motivation for hyphenation.  Yet you still see people asking for that too.

Received on Thursday, 6 December 2012 22:17:13 UTC

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