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Re: HTML5 Issue 11 (encoding detection): I18N WG response...

From: Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 2009 15:51:40 +0200
Message-ID: <4AD1E2EC.4010804@xn--mlform-iua.no>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: "Martin J. Dürst" <duerst@it.aoyama.ac.jp>, "Phillips, Addison" <addison@amazon.com>, Andrew Cunningham <andrewc@vicnet.net.au>, Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, "public-i18n-core@w3.org" <public-i18n-core@w3.org>
Ian Hickson On 09-10-11 10.57:
[...]

> On Wed, 7 Oct 2009, Phillips, Addison wrote:
>>> This seems to be two problems:
>>>
>>> - "Western demographics" not being very clear for implementors. In 
>>> practice, I think implementors understand this pretty well, so I'm not 
>>> convinced that's a problem.
>> I feel that the terminology is not very useful as written. It provides 
>> what appears to be normative guidance but conveys no useful information 
>> about what a Western demographic might be. While the major browser 
>> implementers probably understand what you're getting at, future readers 
>> of this text must deal with this and their understanding may or may not 
>> match current implementer's abilities and understanding.
> 
> It's not clear to me what else could be said that would be as useful but 
> more precise.

[...]

> I think it's important that we mention Win1252 as being a good default in 
> many European and American countries, Australasia, and much of Africa. 
> Without being so specific as to name continents (which would just lead to 
> people saying that the list was wrong), I don't really know what to say 
> other than "The West" or "Western demographic".

[...]

> This boils down to the following changes:

[...]

> 4. Change "in predominantly Western demographics" to "for Western European 
> language environments".

[...]

> I basically don't understand the reasoning for any of these requests.

[...]

> #4 
> seems wrong, since Win1252 is useful for many more Western demographics 
> than just Western Europe (for example it's the right choice in New Zealand 
> also). 

[...]

> I'd much rather see a clear statement of what is wrong with the current 
> text. What problem would changes to the current text be solving?

"Western this-and-that" is predominantly a political way of 
speaking. That's the the problem.

The choice of character set - alphabet - for instance, has always 
been a political matter, and still is. Therefore is wrong to use a 
wording that causes readers to think in political terms. It is 
wrong to nourish the thought that if some population changes to 
use an alphabet which is covered by Win1252, that they then will 
start to belong to the "Western demographics".

Does Croatia belong to "Western demographics, for instance? Why? 
And why not? The Croatian alphabet is not covered by Win1252. What 
about Serbia? Serbia uses both Cyrillic and Latin side by side.

As you can see, "Western demographics" is a wording that - 
depending on how you define "Western" -covers both narrower and 
wider than e.g. "writing systems covered by Win1252".

So a) "Western demographics" brings up thoughts and support a way 
of thinking that doesn't belong in a specification which defines a 
markup language for the entire range of world languages.

b) It isn't a clear term. E.g. demographics that have switched to 
use Latin (e.g. Azerbaijan) may think of themselves - or be 
thought of - as having switched to use the Western alphabet ... 
This is a common way to view it. Yet, they are not covered by 
"Western demographics" in HTML 5. Why? Why not? It turns out that 
the only criteria is Win1252 ... an idiotic criteria.

It may be fair to mention that there is a correspondence between 
what in encoding menus of Web browser often are labeled as 
"Western" or "Western something/something Western" and "Win1252", 
though.

For example you could say "For demographics that are covered by 
what in user agents and e-mail applications are typically known as 
"Western" or "West European" encodings, then Win1252 is the best 
default".
-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Sunday, 11 October 2009 13:52:19 GMT

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