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Re: "lastname" and "firstname" are not culturally neutral

From: John Cowan <cowan@mercury.ccil.org>
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 06:24:38 -0500 (EST)
To: Misha Wolf <Misha.Wolf@reuters.com>
CC: public-webont-comments@w3.org, Www International <www-international@w3.org>
Message-Id: <E190gMG-0000Ka-00@mercury.ccil.org>

Misha Wolf scripsit:

> The concepts "lastname" and "firstname" are not culturally neutral.  
> What is more, they are fairly meaningless, as one culture or person will
> place the family name last, while another culture or person will place 
> the given name last.  If the purpose of such a formatted string were to 
> enable, say, sorting by family name, then this purpose would not be 
> achieved by the construction "lastname, firstname".
> 
> Please replace "lastname" with "family name" and "firstname" with "given
> name".

In fact, that scheme is not culturally neutral either, though it does help
with Chinese, Japanese, and Hungarian.  Icelandic, however, has names of
the form "given-name patronymic", and sorting by given name is correct.
Many Arabic names are also of this form, sometimes with multiple levels
of patronymics.  Most Indonesians, OTOH, have only one name.

The only really safe scheme is "full presentation name" vs. "sortable
name".  This does not leverage the typically high redundancy between
these two values, but it does work in all cases.

-- 
John Cowan           http://www.ccil.org/~cowan              cowan@ccil.org
To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all.  There
are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language
that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful.
        --_The Hobbit_
Received on Wednesday, 2 April 2003 06:25:02 GMT

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