Alternate LANG is unclear in HTML4 Draft

Rob (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 07:37:07 -0500

Message-Id: <>
From: "Rob" <>
To: wahlen@ph-cip.Uni-Koeln.DE (Holger Wahlen)
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 07:37:07 -0500
In-reply-to: <>
Subject: Alternate LANG is unclear in HTML4 Draft

On 15 Sep 97, Holger Wahlen wrote:

> [..]
> The Cougar draft allows the LANG and DIR attributes to
> specify "the primary language of an element's text content",
> so that constructions like these can be used:
> 	<HTML LANG="en">... a document in English ...</HTML>
> 	<P LANG="it">... a paragraph in Italian ...</P>
> 	<EM LANG="de">... emphasized text in German ...</EM>
> Wouldn't it be consequent to have
> 	<A LANG="fr" NAME="id">... anchor text in French ...</A> and
> 	<A LANG="nl" HREF="url">... link text in Dutch ...</A>
> as well then? Instead, the draft states that A and LINK have
> these attributes (as well as CHARSET) for references to the
> language of the *linked document*.

Not quite. The HTML 4.0 Draft isn't clear about that. If should mention 
the use of LINK in the LANG/DIR section but doesn't. A better idea would 
be to have an "Internationalization" section in the draft that points to 
the relevant sections on LANG/DIR, META, LINK, etc.

You'd use <HTML LANG="en"> (or maybe <META HTTP-EQUIV=
"Content-Language" CONTENT="en">) and in the header use <LINK 
REL=Alternate LANG="fr" HREF=...> to point to a French translation of the 

Of course that assumes your browser recognizes alternates and gives you 
the option of loading an alternate version of the document (perhaps in a 
preferred language).

I think XML will allow links to refer to multiple versions of a document.

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