W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > October to December 2005

RE: action item: 3.1 Ls SC1 proposal

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Thu, 03 Nov 2005 16:46:07 +0100
Message-Id: <>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

At 10:31 1/11/2005, Lisa Seeman wrote:
change: A mechanism is available for finding definitions for all words in 
text content.

to: A mechanism is available to determine the meaning of each word or 
phrase in the content
The difference is that the user can pinpoint the intended definition, and 
not just point to a set of possible definitions. Ambiguous words are a big 
for people with cognitive disabilities, pointing them to a set of 
definitions doesn't help them and only puts more of a burden on the author.
If we do want to include a SC about finding definitions of words, it should 
be about the exact definition and not a set of definitions.

At 18:42 1/11/2005, John M Slatin wrote:
I'm concerned about requring a mechanism to "determine the meaning" of 
words or phrases in the content.  I don't think it's testable, especially 
with respect to phrases. My training is in literary studies. There are 
certain phrases whose meaning literary scholars and critics have been 
arguing about for centuries. Those arguments will go on forever because the 
phrases in question are metaphorical-- the metaphor *is* the meaning.

I agree that determining the meaning of words or phrases is a very hard 
requirement for certain types of text.
As John mentioned, the meanings of certain phrases have been debated for 
centuries. Additionally, it is sometimes unclear what the intended words 
(as opposes to meaning) were in many older texts, as in Shakespeare's 
Othello: "Like the base Indian/Judean threw a pearl away / Richer than all 
this tribe" (and many other "textual cruces" in Shakespeare and elsewhere).
Even when the intended words are clear, the meaning can be intentionally 
ambiguous, for example in wordplay:

There once was a fellow named Hall
Who fell in a spring in the fall
't Would have been a sad thing
Had he died in the spring
But he didn't, he died in the fall.

If the techniques that Lisa proposes can handle ambiguity or mark up 
phrases as being ambiguous (can they?), we would be one step closer to 
helping people with the proposed success criterion, but that is a big proviso.


Christophe Strobbe

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Departement of Electrical Engineering - Research Group on 
Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 - 3001 Leuven-Heverlee - BELGIUM
tel: +32 16 32 85 51

Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm
Received on Thursday, 3 November 2005 15:47:33 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 16 January 2018 15:33:56 UTC