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Re: Abbreviations and expansion

From: Nick Kew <nick@webthing.com>
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 2000 18:32:59 +0000 (GMT)
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
cc: WAI ER group <w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org>, Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.BSF.4.21.0012311747220.482-100000@fenris.webthing.com>

On Sun, 31 Dec 2000, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> OK, so I thought for a bit.

I'm missing the context for this, but I'll post anyway.

> One possible approach is to define a dictionary, somewhere on the Web. Then
> you provide a reference to it as part of the metadata for a page. Then a
> dictionary lookup system can go dereference things that are not real words
> (or things that are - why not...).

This is interesting.

When I introduced a (primitive) spellcheck option in the Site Valet,
it was suggested to me that I should allow users to link their document
to a dictionary, which would then be used in the spellcheck.  I have
hitherto rejected the suggestion, on the grounds that dictionaries are
rather big, and I don't like the bandwidth implications of fetching them.
One mechanism I might introduce is to allow users to add words to
(private per-user) extensions to a system dictionary.

Now, regarding your suggestion, I don't see how a standard dictionary
somewhere on the web is any better than a standard dictionary on my
server.  However, a more interesting idea is a Dictionary Protocol,
designed to allow dictionary servers to exchange information on-demand.
However, I suspect this isn't really the right forum to discuss a
dictionary protocol.

> Questions:
> How do you know something is a real word - from markup or from spelling?
> 
> How do you avoid getting a wrong answer in ambiguous cases, or looking up
> something that isn't really an acronym, or not looking up something that is?

Now that you build into the protocol: it should include well-defined
meta-information that identifies a dictionary response as a definition,
an abbr-expansion, a translation, etc.  The request would also indicate
"I'm only interested in responses of class ????" (c.f. HTTP Accept).

> I think the answer to this one is that markup is a lot better. (You could
> rely on people using upper case letters, but it doesn't always work. And is
> not even correct, as I understand it, in Italian.)

E alcuni anni fa quando sono stato in Italia, ma credo che Lei e sbagliato!

>	 This means that a user
> agent or add-on could expect to find an expansion of abbreviations that were
> marked as such but not explicitly expanded in
> the same document, or if not there in the dictionary for the document, or in
> the dictionary referenced by the markup for the particular abbreviation.

Indeed, everyone could benefit from a dictionary protocol supported by
user agents, servers and authoring tools.

-- 
Nick Kew

I procrastinate.  Efficient people never get around to it.
Therefore I am more efficient than an efficient person.
Received on Sunday, 31 December 2000 13:34:06 GMT

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