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Re: [Techniques] Draft General Technique for GL 3.1 L2 SC3

From: Michele Diodati <michele.diodati@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 18:10:18 +0100
Message-ID: <2e1e87c04122909105ce5bda0@mail.gmail.com>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

Hi Gregg,

thank you for your answer, but it still seems to me there is something
wrong in the L2 SCs requirements for GL 3.1. You wrote:

> (...) The origin of a word is not relevant.
> If you read the SC it says that foreign words that are normal in text (in
> the dictionary) are not subject to the rule.  (...)
> It was only meant to refer to phrases made up of words that are not in an
> unabridged dictionary. Specifically the dictionary linked to in L1 SCs.

Such a constraint assumes implicitly that there are not accessibility
issues arising from the pronunciation of foreign words, included in a
dictionary as their standard extensions (for example, the word "file"
in Italian dictionaries). On the contrary, I think this is a relevant
accessibility issue: if a listener can't determine the meaning of a
word because his speech synthesizer is not able to pronounce it in a
comprehensible manner, the accessibility of the content will appear
diminished. I think it is totally irrelevant if the mispronounced word
is, or is not, included in an unabridged dictionary of the main
language used in the document.

And if we assume that assistive technologies are the only responsible
for the right pronunciation of all the words included in endorsed
dictionaries, why ever should we mark esplicitly a passage written in
a foreign language? An assistive technology, intelligent enough to
pronounce in a comprehensible manner all the foreign words included in
a given dictionary, all the more reason should be able to recognize
the natural language of every block in a web page, automatically
switching itself to the requested speech engine.

> No linguistic knowledge is required.

If a web developer has to mark every passage written in a foreign
language with the appropriate lang code, it seems to me that he or she
has to know at least which language every single piece of text in a
web page is written into. If a web developer isn't the author of the
content but only its "aggregator", and if the content is very long, it
can be a great problem assigning every phrase or passage to the
appropriate natural language.

> The comments below also seem to indicate that there is an assumption of
> absolute ability to pronounce properly. This is not the case. In fact you
> can't even get people in the US to agree on how to pronounce English words.
> The goal is to have an idea of possible pronunciations.  And to know when a
> phrase is a foreign quote or passage.

Probably everyone in US is able to understand English phrases
pronounced with a British pronunciation, and vice versa. It is not the
same for English words and phrases interspersed in a document written
for the main part in Italian. In such a case, it may appear
paradoxical, but the best understanding of the content derives from an
adapted pronunciation of the English passages more than from a perfect
English pronunciation.

In brief, I want to underline the following points:

1. In many cases, pronunciation is _fundamental_ for a right
understanding of the content (and therefore for its accessibility).

2. The present separation in L2 SC3, between words included and not
included in dictionaries, does not give a valid solution for a lot of
situations arising from intrinsic ambuiguity and complexity of natural

3. I am not suggesting to modify the SC in a way that every foreign
word, included or not included in dictionaries, should be marked in
the code with the appropriate lang code. I am rather suggesting that
_no passage or phrase_ written in a foreign language should be marked
in the code. When possible, authors should resolve potential
ambiguities in the content modifying the wording or linking some words
to glossaries and dictionaries.

4. The identification of the natural language of each block of text in
a web page should be delegated to user agents.

5. The Working Group should do every effort to obtain feedbacks about
what is now in L2 SC3 for Guideline 3.1 from people speaking languages
very different from English.

Best regards,
Michele Diodati
Received on Wednesday, 29 December 2004 17:10:49 UTC

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