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Re: 'acronym' semantics

From: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 16:23:31 -0700
To: Simon Jessey <simon@jessey.net>, www-html@w3.org
Message-id: <BABB4316.DF7%ewexler@stickdog.com>

Simon Jessey wrote to <mailto:www-html@w3.org> on 10 April 2003 in "Re:
'acronym' semantics" (<mid:003101c2ff5d$eee7b840$6401a8c0@Simon2S0JP11>):

>> The 'acronym' element
>> type has exactly the same fundamental semantics as the 'abbr' element type
>> has. The 'acronym' element type merely adds the presentational hint,
>> "Pronounce like a normal word".
> Isn't that a bit like saying all of your <strong> elements have the same
> fundamental semantics as your <em> elements, but with a presentational hint
> that "emphasis should be stronger"?

Emphasis, indicating importance, is device-independent and semantic, not
presentational. Nevertheless, the 'strong' element type is not such a hot
idea [RB].

Imagine various ways to render a 'strong' element. It could be in a bold
font weight, as is common. But then it might be in a distinct color, in a
larger font size, in a distinct font family, at a higher volume, at a slower
pace, or in a distinct voice family.

An 'acronym' element, on the other hand, includes a specific rendering hint.
While there is some reasonable variation in visually rendering an 'acronym'
element, that is beside the point. For one thing, an 'acronym' element does
have some real semantics (for lack of a better phrase) that can account for
the variation: it is an abbreviation. For another thing, by analogy, a 'b'
element can have any number of aural renderings, precisely because it is a
presentational element used for visual effect. A letter-by-letter
pronunciation of an 'acronym' element is contradictory, just as a
normal-weight font for a 'b' element is contradictory. While a
letter-by-letter pronunciation of most elements would be out of the normal,
it is neither contradictory nor useless (consider learning to spell).

> I've seen suggestions that
> <strong>...</strong> should be replaced with <em><em>...</em></em>.

I support such a change. If nothing else, the 'em'/'strong' dichotomy is
limited to two levels. Well, we could introduce 'em1', 'em2', 'em3', 'em4',
'em5', and 'em6'... (That was a joke. Please do not respond with "Useful,
hell yeah!" messages.)

Jonny Axelsson.
"Re: Comments on XHTML 2.0 Working Draft".
Correspondence to <mailto:www-html@w3.org>.
7 August 2002.

Etan Wexler <mailto:ewexler@stickdog.com>
Received on Thursday, 10 April 2003 19:25:18 UTC

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