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Re: Acronym in an acronym.

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003 00:58:07 +0200 (EET)
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.50.0303090040310.4874-100000@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Sun, 9 Mar 2003, Tim Roberts wrote:

> <acronym title="HTML Writers Guild">HWG</acronym>
> Then I realised that the acronym title attribute actually contains an
> acronym in its self.

Neither "HWG" nor "HTML" is an acronym. (Where I live, "HTML" is sometimes
read as an acronym, pronouncing a vowel after each consonant, but
even this would not make "HTML" an acronym.)

But that's actually a bit different matter, and relates to the confusion
between <acronym> and <abbr>. In fact, neither of these elements is of
much use, since <acronym> is illogical for most abbreviations whereas
<abbr> still isn't recognized by Internet Explorer.

Thus, it is _much_ more important to emphasize the need for explicit
explanations of any unusual abbreviations, terms, and symbols, in the
normal text of a document, or in associated (linked) documents. I've
written a relatively long treatise on this:

This particular technical issue is in fact an additional (small) argument
in favor of my point. The technicality is that attributes cannot contain
markup, so you cannot use any tags inside title="...". You could not use
e.g. markup to indicate language changes (with lang and/or xml:lang
attributes) inside an attribute value. Yet, indicating all language
changes is a WCAG 1.0 requirement. (Actually, a requirement which is
probably not satisfied by most pages that proudly show an icon claiming
conformance to WCAG 1.0.)

The ultimate problem is the design flaw in HTML that puts actual content
into attributes. (We know that flaw from the alt attribute too: making the
alternate content an attribute value restricts it to plain text - no
lists, no tables, etc.)

But we can avoid that problem when giving explanations of abbreviations
simply by not using attributes. When you write explanations as normal
content, they are accessible to everyone, and you are not limited to plain

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Saturday, 8 March 2003 17:58:09 UTC

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