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Re: <q> element, XHTML2, and CSS

From: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 16:12:04 +0200
Message-ID: <42E25034.1050009@w3.org>
To: Bert Bos <bbos@mygale.sophia.w3.org>
Cc: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, Addison Phillips <addison.phillips@quest.com>, public-i18n-core@w3.org, public-i18n-geo@w3.org, Hypertext CG <w3c-html-cg@w3.org>
Interesting. Clearly, this issue was discussed at nauseam at the CSS group...:-)
And you have a point.

I would still argue that the <q> element is good to have in some ways, although
I see the point why asking the UA to insert the quote marks automatically might
be problematic indeed. The obvious example is that of a voice browser which
might use a <q> element to alter the tonality for a quote. Whether this is
achieved by a <q> element, a class+style, or using the XHTML2 possibility of
'role' is a question of debate, I see it as one of the borderline cases where
'content' ends and 'style' begins...

For the rest, on whether the quote marks should be added by the author or the
user agent... I am still not sure, to be honest. Have to think about it more...


Bert Bos wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 23, 2005 at 09:14:42AM +0200, Ivan Herman wrote:
>>Regardless, I sure would prefer to have the <q> displayed in browsers as
>>originally intended and described in HTML. I am not sure I like the approach of
>>CSS2.1 (in general, b.t.w.) which seems to legitimize unwillingness of browsers
>>to do the right thing... mainly in an international setting this is the wrong
>>approach in my view.
> Many people in the CSS WG indeed believe that 'quotes' *should not*
> have been neded in CSS, or, more correctly, that inserting quotes
> should in general not be done with a style sheet (independent of
> whether you use the 'quotes' property or just :before/:after).
> When HTML added Q and required UAs to insert the correct, multilingual
> quotes, it was quickly recognized that UAs cannot do that. There are
> typographical traditions in various languages (too many for a browser
> to know them all), but no firm rules. Only the author knows what
> quotes to use. And thus the 'quotes' property was developed to make it
> as easy as possible for authors who write multilingual documents with
> Q and take the burden away from UAs.
> But 'quotes' may be as easy as possible, it is still complex. And if
> you only expect the author to use it, not the reader, why is it in CSS
> in the first place? The author can put the quotes directly in the
> source, there is hardly ever any reason to change quotes on different
> media. (And :before/:after are still available for the few cases where
> the author does want to change quotes.)
> If quotes are part of style, then so are exclamation marks (¡Spanish
> has two!), periods, the use of the passive voice, the use of long
> words, em-dashes instead of commas, and indeed using direct quotations
> at all (he said: "I am Ben") instead of indirect ones (he said that he
> was Ben).
> XHTML2 is right in not requiring the UA to generate the quotes. But
> meanwhile we still have the problem that Q is unusable in HTML.
> I guess there are three possible solutions:
> 1) Change HTML and no longer let the UA insert the quotes. 
> Unfortunately, there are several browsers that do insert quotes and it
> will take a while before they are all updated.
> 2) Don't change HTML, but say that the Q element is deprecated. 
> Instead, use <span class=q> or, better still, XHTML2 if you want to
> mark-up quotations.
> 3) Don't change anything. Q is still recommended.
> The 'quotes' property exists and won't go away. It is implemented, and
> the implementations may even be good enough to keep it in CSS level 2
> instead of moving it to level 3.
> But if we choose (3), we have to be aware that fixing 'quotes' in the
> browsers that don't do it very well or not at all, will have to
> compete with other things that people also want: multiple background
> images, vertical text, line breaking in Thai, high-level layout for
> DI, semi-transparent text, keyboard shortcuts, etc., not to mention
> all the other bugs that still have to fixed in level 2.
> Bert
> PS. French has other typographical challenges than white space. The
> quotes aren't closed and reopened in a quotation with a short
> interjection ("incise"):
>     « Le conseil est bon, dit Turenne, après avoir examiné la
>     la position; dressez une batterie ici. »
> In other words, you cannot mark-up such a text with
>     <q>...,</q> dit Turenne...; <q>...</q>
> You'll need someting like
>     <q>... <interjection>dit Turenne...</> ...</q>
> but that doesn't exist in HTML.
> This is one reason why I don't agree with the argument that the I18N
> WG once gave[1] in favour of Q, viz., that declaring the quotes in the
> style sheet made it easier for the translator to change them. In
> reality, changing the quotes in the source is easier.
> Another problem, that even exists in English, is what to do with
> punctuation. Assume you want to mark-up
>     "Hello," said Alice.
> Is that
>     <q>Hello,</q> said Alice
> or
>     <q>Hello</q>, said Alice?
> The latter is correct if you want to isolate exactly what Alice said,
> but then you'll need a style sheet language that is quite a bit
> smarter than CSS to put the quote mark after the comma.
> In TEI, the punctuation that is required for the sentence structure
> (such as the comma above) is included in the quotation if that is the
> case in the source that is being marked-up (thus the former of the two
> lines above). But the quotation marks themselves can be included or
> not at will. If omitted, they must be described in an attribute.
> [1] http://www.w3.org/International/2004/10/xhtml2-i18n-review.html (item 25)


Ivan Herman
W3C Communications Team, Head of Offices
C/o W3C Benelux Office at CWI, Kruislaan 413
1098SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
tel: +31-20-5924163; mobile: +31-641044153;
URL: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/

Received on Saturday, 23 July 2005 14:11:53 UTC

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