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But are <abbr/> et al. anything more than presentation?

From: Ernest Cline <ernestcline@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 12:12:48 -0500
Message-ID: <410-2200312512171248890@mindspring.com>
To: "W3C HTML List" <www-html@w3.org>

So far , the recent discussion of abbreviation elements has
concentrated on whether there should be a distinction between
acronyms, initialisms and other types of abbreviation.

But why should XHTML2 have any sort of abbreviation
element at all?  It certainly isn't semantic.  If you translate
a web page from one foreign language to another a word
that has been abbreviated in one language might not use
an abbreviation in the other or vice versa.  Whereas,
a quote will still be a quote, a paragraph will be a paragraph,
emphasized text will still be emphasized, etc. 

The only use that has been given for abbreviation elements
is as a presentational aid for aural user agents.  Visual presentation
elements such as <b/>, <i/>, etc, have largely been dropped with
the exception of <sup/> and <sub/> where it is asserted that
it is needed to assure proper rendering of languages
such as French that use them in their abbreviations.
However, at least in that case <sup/> and <sub/>
claim to suggest a needed visual presentation not representable
by other methods using only XHTML.  <abbr/> can make
no such claim in the current draft.  It should have no default
effect on the visual presentation (in English at least), and
styling is still required to make the correct choice of
presentation between expansion into the unabbreviated
form, speaking as a word, or speaking letter by letter.
Actually,  the suggestion to use ruby markup instead
for abbreviations appears to be the most appropriate
way to handle them.  It provides a correct (if not necessarily
esthetically pleasing) presentation which the author can then
use styling to make more pleasing for various display modes

Ernest Cline
Received on Friday, 12 December 2003 12:12:52 UTC

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