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LANG and proper names; voice browsers and roman numerals

From: Christopher Atkinson <cwa@pipeline.com>
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 23:58:21 -0500
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Two narrow, technical questions:

(a) if my base language is EN-US but I have proper names in other languages,
should I use <SPAN LANG="xx">Foreign Name</SPAN> to be in compliance with
the WAI content recommendation?

I have been working under the assumption that I should use LANG where a
foreign word would be italicized under print conventions (i.e., non-proper
foreign words, but not proper nouns).

However, a voice browser is going to mangle a name just as badly as a
non-proper foreign word. But if I do use LANG on proper names, I could be
flipping among languages multiple times per sentence, or even per name (for
example <SPAN LANG="FR">Marie</SPAN><SPAN LANG="IT">de'Medici</SPAN>, <SPAN
LANG="NL">Maurits</SPAN> of <SPAN LANG="DE">Nassau</SPAN>). If voice user
agents announce the change in language every time this happens, or change
the voice used to speak the words, I imagine it could be very annoying to
users, perhaps even more annoying than mangled names.

I understand that, given the lack of support for LANG in current technology,
this is a somewhat abstract question. Still I would like to be prepared for
the future and in compliance with the standard in the present.

(b) if I include roman numerals in my text, will commonly used voice
browsers/screen readers read them as the associated number or as the
component letters? For example would a listener hear "Bogislav XIV" as
"Bogislav the Fourteenth" or as "Bogislav EX-EYE-VEE"?

Is there any difference in reading among:

Bogislav XIV
Bogislav XIVth
Bogislav XIVth.

If this is a problem, is there any solution other than writing out the
numeral or using arabic numerals (both of which would confuse or annoy users
of visual browsers)? Would <SPAN TITLE="the Fourteenth"> do anybody any
good? Or even <ACRONYM TITLE="the Fourteenth">? (Yes, <ABBR> is actually
correct, but I'm not even going to go there.)

I know this is a little off-topic for a policy making list, so if there is a
proper list of which I am unaware, I would be grateful if you could forward
this there.

Thanks for your help,
Received on Sunday, 27 February 2000 00:04:39 UTC

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