Re: Foreign Words and Phrases

Jukka Korpela (jkorpela@cc.hut.fi)
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 14:53:01 +0300 (EET DST)


Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 14:53:01 +0300 (EET DST)
From: Jukka Korpela <jkorpela@cc.hut.fi>
To: www-html@w3.org
In-Reply-To: <199709221033.NAA27067@anise.tte.vtt.fi>
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.3.96.970922142832.15416A-100000@beta.hut.fi>
Subject: Re: Foreign Words and Phrases

On Mon, 22 Sep 1997, Markku Savela wrote:

> ... it is a convention to display scientific names of organisms in
> Italic. Until styles are fully supported I have been considering
> something like following
> 	<i class=species>Achillea millefolium</i>
> which would give correct result on non-style browser.

Currently we have to resort to using <i> for scientific names. I don't
quite see what something like class=species adds to it. Assumably you
intend to provide a style sheet which suggests the use of italics,
which is the thing that browsers are going to do anyway if they are
able to present italics at all. If the user can utilize user's style
sheets he could define some special representation he likes (say,
italics plus some nice color), _provided_ he peeks at your code and
sees that class=species. If he edits his style sheet accordingly,
the next document browsed might accidentally use class=species, too.
Probably for something quite different purpose!

> Using <em> would
> not be correct here, as I specifically want "italic", and not any
> emphasis!

Right. Notice, by the way, that you might conceivably use <em> _too_,
to emphasize the name.

I remember seeing some conventions on presenting scientific names
in typewritten text. It would be natural to apply such conventions
when presenting such names by browsers when italics font cannot be used.
There might be _several_ conventions on that around. Anyway, this
strongly suggest that there should be an element in HTML for the
purpose. A reader should see scientific names displayed in a manner
which conforms to what _he_ is accustomed to or which he likes,
not e.g. according to the local rules at Univ. of Nowhere where
the _author_ works.

The key thing is not how to get some particular visible presentation but
to indicate that this is a scientific name (which might be important not
only for better visible or audible presentation but also for search
engines, for example).

Probably the element should be a generic one like TAXON, with optional
attributes for taxonomic class and the extra information which belongs
to the full from of a scientific name.

> Can 'class' imply attributes? Might be nice if 'species' could imply
> lang=latin so that I wouldn't need to repeat that for each element?
> (e.g. language inherited from the class too?).

No. At least hopefully not. :-) It would be grossly illogical for
something constructed for affecting presentation to imply attributes
which are not presentational only. The lang attribute has many
potential uses. Only a few of them are presentational. I don't expect
the lang attribute have any effect on _visible_ presentation in most
cases. In _audible_ presentation it would be crucial, of course.

Naturally, if defined as an element, TAXON could have any properties
that correspond to its meaning. It could have lang="la" as default
attribute (or perhaps lang="la-neo"), or even as an unoverridable
attribute (although you would not be able to say it SGML).

> Is this "a can of
> worms", to extend styles so that class could be used to add element
> attributes?

That can has already been opened. I hope there is still time to close it.

Yucca, http://www.hut.fi/home/jkorpela/