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AW: XHTML 2.0 and hreflang and type

From: Oskar Welzl <oskar.welzl@pan.at>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 00:38:20 +0100
To: <ernestcline@mindspring.com>, "W3C HTML List" <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000001c3a976$0e4d7c20$0100a8c0@mshome.net>
> The obvious question is:
>  Is hreflang intended as a substitute for Content-Language
> [...] or as an override or
> supplement to Accept-Language?

Is there any question? If we, as you say, 'restore' hreflang, it would mean that we simple use it as HTML 4.01 and the Aug 2002 working draft of XHTML 2002 used it: 
"This attribute specifies the base language of the resource designated by href"

I never saw any other interpretation of this than: 
It is an information about the language the remote document uses. The information is mainly intended for the human reader, not for further processing by the UA. The information need not correspond to any http-information, given the remote server might be not be properly configured.

That's how hreflang would be used according to HTML 4.01, and that's what, I think, should be restored to XHTML 2.0. (Except, of course, there was a good reason for dropping it in the first place between the August 2002 and May 2003 working drafts.)

> (Question: would hrefcharset or hrefencoding be of any use?

It wouldn't, no. While technically similiar or even the same, to the average user, hrefcharset and hrefencoding wouldnt be of any use. I can't figure why a UA should tell the user that the remote resource is ISO-8859-1. It means nothing. It's a technical thing UAs should handle in the background. 
Natural languages, though, mean a lot to the human reader. The unexperienced author of a private homepage (at geocities.com etc. - you know, upload *.htm or use a web frontend to 'design' pages, no way to configure the server) might not have included any 'technical' language information within the head of his something-like-html4-tagsoup document. Neither does the server, simply because they neither care nor know whatever languages their customers use.
If you link to this tagsoup from *your* shining new standard-compliant XHTML 2.0 document, though, you might include information to your english readers that the remote resource is french (german, whatever ...), so they needn't activate the link if they dont speak the language. There's no other reasonale way in this scenario to make this information available to the user than hreflang. 
On the other hand, confronting the user with something like "click on this link only if your browser can handle UTF-16" would be helpful only if you also add a mechanism for the user to ask "what is UTF-16?".

regards
oskar
Received on Wednesday, 12 November 2003 18:37:11 UTC

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