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Re: Paren

From: <Jukka.Korpela@hut.fi>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 02:16:22 -0400 (EDT)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.4.10.9908040842550.7077-100000@beta.hut.fi>
On Tue, 3 Aug 1999, Michael Hamm wrote:

> A similar tag to <q> could be <paren>, which would be a language-sensitive
> way of adding parentheses.

It would probably be very similar to <q> in the sense that it
is broken by design and won't get implemented. :-) See

In particular, the use of the <q> markup does not "degrade gracefully"
on browsers not supporting it. It _would_, if the element had been
defined somewhat differently, so that authors are allowed and
recommended to use quotation marks inside: <q>"Veni, vidi, vici"</q>
would then look like a quotation on older browsers, and newer browsers
would be expected to "eat up" the quotation marks if they use some
other method (such as italics) of indicating the text as quotation.

>(a) Different languages use different 
> characters as parentheses, so they should be represented by HTML tags
> rather than by text characters;

That's very similar to the fallacy behind the design of <q>.
Quotation marks are language-specific, for sure. So is other
punctuation. So are the words and grammatical structures.
(It _might_ make sense to use HTML markup for _some_ of such things,
but language-specificity itself cannot be a sufficient reason.)

An author is expected to know the natural language he uses in
his documents and get the punctuation right. Using <q> markup just
for getting a "correct"*) _presentation_ is not productive.
What it _would_ be useful for is helping search engines in the long run.
(For example, search engines might be asked to search for documents
containing the keywords in a quotation - or outside a quotation.)

>(b) parentheses, being logical operators
> rather than meaningful text, can (should) be represented by HTML tags.

Parentheses are surely meaningful text. They can be used as logical
operators (just as you can define such a usage for any characters you
like) but there is no common agreement or practice on that.

Perhaps you actually meant markup for _digressions_, such as
some less important or somewhat off-topic remarks at the end of
paragraph. _That_ would be something logical. And things like
<digress>(The etymology of this word is interesting.
Bla bla bla...)
would have great potential. Browsers could use some elegant
presentation based on using a different font or color (probably dropping
out the parentheses then). They could have an option of not displaying
digressions at all - a reader might prefer that; actually, that would be
possible at present already, using a user style sheet with digress
{display:none}. Search engines could ignore text in digressions, or give
it less weight.

Yucca, http://www.hut.fi/u/jkorpela/ or http://yucca.hut.fi/yucca.html
Received on Wednesday, 4 August 1999 05:29:51 UTC

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