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Re: lang attribute and not widely spoken languagues

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 03:55:49 -0400 (EDT)
To: Graham Oliver <graham_oliver@yahoo.com>
cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0106140349160.20046-100000@tux.w3.org>
One that hasn't been mentioned is for braille. When generating braille which
includes contractions it is very important to know what set of conventions
are being used, as they vary from language to language.

In interactive content having grammar and spell checking can be important
functions. I once developed a system for archiving stories in the Yolngu
Matha Langauge family, and it included a dictionary lookup facility. Since
the stories were essentially oral, and since there are very few speakers who
can spell the languages (estimated by one expert at 4, and he said that there
were disagreements among the 4), it was important that looking up a word
didn't rely on perfect spelling. One very useful clue was to be able to find
out what language the word was in - in this case, one or more of 31 closely
related languages.

Automatic translation is another one. The word "sensible" can appear in
french and english, and is reasonably common. But it means quite different
things (in french, it has approximately the meaning of the english word
"sensitive"). There are many other examples. As people start to use
auto-translation to simplify and summarise texts (this is not Sci-fi - Word
2000 actually attempts to do it, and that's a fairly widespread product) it
is important to know which language to try for.

Where ther are multiple language versions of a document available, it is
helpful to be able to find out automatically which is the desired version.


Charles McCN

On Wed, 13 Jun 2001, Graham Oliver wrote:

  I am trying to recommend on the use of the 'lang'
  attribute in relation to a not widely spoken language.
  (Maori, the native language of New Zealand)
  I am struggling to see what benefit using lang="mi"
  will have.

  These are the reasons put forward by WAI

  -Assisting search engines
  -Assisting speech synthesizers
  -Helping a user agent select glyph variants for high
  quality typography
  -Helping a user agent choose a set of quotation marks
  -Helping a user agent make decisions about
  hyphenation, ligatures, and spacing
  -Assisting spell checkers and grammar checkers

  Can anyone help me out with a real world example of
  any of the above OR give a reason apart from any of
  the above as to why to use the lang attribute.

  Graham Oliver

  'Making on-line information accessible'
  Mobile Phone : 025-919-724
  Work Phone : 09 846 6995
  AIM ID : grahamolivernz

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Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Thursday, 14 June 2001 03:55:49 UTC

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