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Re: Usefulness of language annotations

From: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2014 18:35:11 +0100
Message-ID: <53E8FECF.9020402@w3.org>
To: "Jens O. Meiert" <jens@meiert.com>, W3C WAI GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
I'm in the middle of something, so just quick responses here off the top 
of my head...

On 11/08/2014 18:10, Jens O. Meiert wrote:
> I like to break into an old topic for which I believe the wrong ideas
> float around, but against which I’m not yet ready to push on other
> channels.
> Hence I want to fish for arguments here: How useful are language
> annotations via @lang?
> In particular:
> 1) Do user agents, including assistive technology, use this
> information in a way that is *actually* relevant and meaningful to the
> user?

Absolutely!  For example:

Major browsers tend to provide appropriate language-specific default 
fonts for the same ideographic text, depending whether it's labelled as 
Chinese, Japanese or Korean (and for some other scripts too).

An ever-increasing number of CSS properties use the language information 
for language-specific things such as hyphenation, justification, 
line-breaking, quote marks, letter-spacing, first-letter highlight, etc.

Spellcheckers exist that use the language information in the source to 
more intelligently apply spellchecking.

A voice browser ought to be able to tell that 'chat' in English is not 
pronounced the same as 'chat' in French, even if it can't speak French 
(though presumably it might at some point).

Identification of language changes in-page can provide useful hints to 
search engines or scripting.

Automated translation tools can choose to handle text differently if it 
knows it's in a different language.

Soon HTML may use the language value to format locale-specific 
information for insertion of content into a page (eg. times, dates, etc).


> 2) Isn’t, or shouldn’t, language determination primarily be made a
> user agent, and not a developer responsibility?

Why?  How can you guarrantee accuracy - particularly for specialist 
texts where fine distinctions are made between language variants.  What 
about in-editor spellchecking?

> 3) Does it matter at all?

Well, yes. You obviously haven't had much experience of it's benefits, 
so please trust me on this. ;-)


> I’m presenting this here (and perhaps on one or two more lists) to
> fish for arguments I may be missing. I’ve set my mind on this a while
> back [1]—and would answer 1) not usefully implemented, 2) tool
> responsibility, 3) probably not—but wonder if there is something that
> strongly disputes my view.
> Otherwise we can maybe clear up a mythical argument and requirement
> that developers need to mark up languages.
> Cheers,
>   Jens.
> [1] https://plus.google.com/+JensOMeiert/posts/PfasbPRMuX8
> --
> Jens O. Meiert
> http://meiert.com/en/
> ⚐ http://coderesponsibly.org/
Received on Monday, 11 August 2014 17:35:41 UTC

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