Re: Foreign Words and Phrases

Chris Maden (
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 10:31:17 -0400

Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 10:31:17 -0400
Message-Id: <>
From: Chris Maden <>
In-reply-to: <Pine.SUN.3.96.970923153524.361I-100000@enoshima> (message from
Subject: Re: Foreign Words and Phrases

[Martin Dürst]
> On Mon, 22 Sep 1997, Rob wrote:
> > Using EM is deceptive and will throw off a speech renderer that
> > might speak the world with added volume. SPAN is more appropriate.
> That wouldn't be a mistake. There has to be some distinction between
> the case that a foreign word is used without italics/emphasis and
> the case it is emphasized as something special. Both cases exist,
> and it would be wrong to not distinguish them aurally.

In English typography, at least, foreign words should always be
italicized; the only ones that aren't are loanwords that aren't really
foreign any more.

I believe that this is a kind of emphasis, and I would use, <em
class="foreign" lang="la">e.g.</em>, ... that.

It's true that words aren't louder because they're of foreign origin,
and it's also true that one might want to make them important as
well.  But in good typography, the foreign words in an italicized
phrase would be roman; similarly, I don't think it's wrong to nest
<em>s.  It's valid, but you may get some weird effects on tag-soup
browsers, which will pop the font stack on any font-effect end-tag.[*]

Given the poverty of HTML tags, it really is a judgement call on the
author's part.


[*] Try this in Netscape: <b>1<i>2<em>Hello!</em>2</em>1</em>.  Does
it still do what it used to?
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