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Comment on strings and languages in RDF

From: Martin Duerst <duerst@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2003 17:50:01 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org
Cc: w3c-i18n-ig@w3.org, swick@w3.org

Dear RDF WG,

I have been actioned by the I18N WG (Core TF) to write to you.

This is partially a Last Call comment, and partially a comment
on your recently announced post-Last Call changes. It affects
several of your specifications.

On its recent teleconference, the I18N WG (Core TF) agreed with
my summary of the situation in

In particular, we have looked at the current (both in the Last
Call as well as in your later proposal) status of string and
language handling in RDF literals (plain literals, XML literals,
typed literals of XML Schema Datatype 'string').

The core arguments for our case are contained in the above email,
but I'll copy them here for your easy reference:

This situation is not at all satisfactory from the viewpoint
of I18N because:
- We have worked hard to eliminate artificial differences between
   text strings that are essentially the same:
   - by basing XML and RDF on Unicode, and therefore eliminating
     differences in character encoding.
   - by working on normalization (NFC) to reduce or avoid accidental
     differences based on remaining encoding choices in Unicode
   It would be very bad if after all that work, we were left with
   gratuitously different ways of representing textual strings due
   to idiosyncrasies of a type system.

- Language tagging is an important aspect of internationalization.
   Also, small-scale markup is important for internationalization
   (multilanguage strings, bidirectionality, ruby, glyph variants,...).
   Both are in many ways natural extensions of plain text strings
   as soon as markup is available.

   The current handling of XML literal strings without any actual
   markup, as well as the recent change to ignore xml:lang on XML
   literals, break this natural extension.

   In addition, the recent change to ignore xml:lang on XML
   literals makes language tagging more tedious in the prevalent
   case of monolingual or mostly monolingual data.

We think that this is a very important issue for RDF and I18N,
and strongly urge you to find a better solution. We think the
proposal given by Ralph is a very good start, but we are sure
you will have other ideas.

With kind regards,     Martin.
Received on Thursday, 5 June 2003 17:50:14 UTC

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