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Re: [whatwg] Sentence structure

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2013 20:27:01 +0000 (UTC)
To: "Thomas A. Fine" <fine@head.cfa.harvard.edu>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.64.1301102018290.2101@ps20323.dreamhostps.com>
Cc: whatwg@whatwg.org
On Thu, 10 Jan 2013, Thomas A. Fine wrote:
> 
> Use Cases:
>   1. Formatting sentence spacing to approximate the look of
>      almost all books in English from 1650-1950.

This is possible today, using <span class="sentence">. Unless 
approximating the formatting of a small minority of old books becomes much 
more common than it is now, this use case probably doesn't justify using a 
dedicated element.


>   2. Formatting sentence spacing because it is very likely an
>      aid to scanning text, and there are some indications that it
>      is helpful for new readers, readers learning a new language,
>      and readers with visual scanning issues and other learning
>      disabilities.

Browsers can do this without markup (sentences are detectable by some 
relatively simple heuristics), so this wouldn't justify adding a 
markup-level feature.

Incidentally, do you have any research to support this claim? My 
understanding is that in practice the double-spacing at the end of 
sentences is considered an antiquated practice that doesn't actually help 
with reading much, certainly not as much as slightly increased line 
spacing, clear punctuation, and the like.


>   3. Formatting sentence spacing because I like it that way.

This is possible today, using <span class="sentence">. Unless your 
preference here becomes much more common than it is now, this use case 
probably doesn't justify using a dedicated element.


>   4. Clarifying sentence boundaries would be an aid in machine
>      translation software.

Do you have any evidence supporting this? I've spoken with engineers who 
work on machine translation software and while they've certainly had 
requests (whence the "translate" attribute), they've never asked for a way 
to mark up sentences.


>   5. Clarifying sentence boundaries would be an aid to screen
>      readers to help provide correct inflection.

Screen readers must have excellent sentence ending detections regardless 
of what features we provide, because most Web pages (and there are 
trillions already) don't include such markup. So adding an element would 
not solve this problem.


Since the use cases do not currently support adding an element for this 
purpose, I have not added the element to the language.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 10 January 2013 20:27:26 GMT

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