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RE: Question around WCAG 1.0

From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 15:33:54 +0200
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDF64@TIEKE1>
To: "'iris'" <iristopa@yahoo.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

iris wrote:

> --- Jon Hanna <jon@spin.ie> wrote:> 
> > In principal you should generally use something
> > like:
> > 
> > <p>
> >   He is a <span lang="fr"
> > xml:lang="fr">cordon-bleu</span> chef.
> > </p>
> > 
> > In practice this could be impractical, and raises
> > questions like "is 'cordon-bleu' English or French?"
> > given that the term is used in English.
> the question is, will the screen reader mangle it by
> trying to pronounce it as an english word?

Quite possibly. For the word "cordon-bleu", this is probably not fatal;
anyone who would understand the properly pronounced expression within
English text presumably recognizes the mispronunciation as well.

And, in general, though perhaps not in this case, "too good" pronunciation
can be poor esthetics and poor accessibility. When foreign words occur in
running text, it can be rather distracting to utter them "right", with
genuine intonation and phonetic features that may strongly distinguish them
from the surrounding flow of text.

> is it in it's english dictionary with the correct
> pronunciation?  i usually don't rely on that and make
> sure it's pronounced correctly by telling the screen
> reader to switch to french.

That sounds reasonable, especially since e.g. WWWebster does not know the
word. It does not know the word pair "cordon bleu" either. I guess "cordon
bleu" is the correct French expression. (Even this difference might matter
in automated dictionary lookup!)

It's a difficult and intriguing question how far we should go in language
markup. Should a proper name be indicated as being in a particular language?
For proper names as well as other words, there's a continuous spectrum of
adaptation to another language, ranging from purely "foreign expressions",
like a casual occurrence of a foreign name or term, up to completely adapted
loanwords, often adapted through considerable changes in phonetics and
spelling. And quite often the spelling is still foreign, although the
pronunciation differs considerably from the original. Sometimes there's no
big difference in pronunciation but still something foreign in the spelling.
Actually, should we use <span lang="fr">chef</span> in English texts, on the
grounds that "chef" is to be pronounced more by French rules than by English

This is rather theoretical at present, since there is so little actual
support to language markup. But in specifications and recommendations, it
would be important to make it clear what the language markup really _means_,
i.e. its semantics. There's little point in writing language markup and
making use of it at a very detailed level (words, phrases, perhaps even
parts of word), until there's something that we can regard as a convention
of exactly how it _should_ be used.

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
http://www.tieke.fi/  My phone +358 9 4763 0397
Received on Thursday, 21 November 2002 08:34:25 UTC

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