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Re: Question about HTML abbr and acronym tags

From: Nicholas Shanks <contact@nickshanks.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 10:14:10 +0000
Cc: www-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <4C60E51D-2B19-4A01-B846-3C22DBF0523B@nickshanks.com>
To: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
On 9 Jan 2008, at 12:30, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:

> Nicholas Shanks wrote:
>
>> <ssml:phoneme alphabet="x-apple-macintalk"
>> ph="hAXrtfIXdSIXr"><ssml:phoneme ph="h a1 r t f ah0 d sh ah0 r"
>> alphabet="x-cepstral-swift">Hertfordshire</ssml:phoneme></ 
>> ssml:phoneme>
>
> That's not HTML, is it?

Well spotted. But then the page is application/xhtml+xml anyway. The  
text/html version doesn't include pronunciation.

> There are many definitions for them, and that's part of my point. Your
> definition for "acronym" does not match the definition in many
> dictionaries

I'd be interested to hear yours. Is your defn. different for English  
than it is for Finnish? i.e, do you consider akronyymi to be a whole  
and equal translation, or only something close?

>> Acronyms, in good typographical environments (e.g. print), should be
>> lettered in small-caps.
>
> Some day some vendor might take such ideas seriously. (There's no  
> reason why a
> browser should display acronyms in small-caps _by default_.)

That depends on the language. I would have no problem whatsoever with
acronym:lang(en) { font-variant: small-caps; }
being in a browser's default style sheet. It's already in my own user  
style sheet (with a first-letter exemption).

>> On teletext and their website, the BBC are notable for doing  
>> something
>> weird, where acronyms pronounced as a word, such as NASA, are  
>> initial-
>> caps only: Nasa. Acronyms pronounced letter by letter, such as BBC
>> itself, are all caps.
>
> Such practice is standard (prescribed by language authorities) for
> Finnish and most probably for many other languages using a bicameral
> script. Except that they're not called acronyms.

Well, as I say, in my use of English they are called acronyms, and if  
I were writing NASA or COBOL or something similar, i would mark it up  
as an acronym.

abbr, acronym { font-style: inherit; border: none; }
@media aural, speech
{
	abbr, acronym { speak: normal; }
	abbr.initialism { speak: spell-out; }
	abbr[title].truncation { content: attr(title); }
}

This reflects my usage:
<acronym> Abbreviations that are acronyms (as per previous defn.)
<abbr class="initialism"> Abbreviations like FBI, BBC
<abbr class="truncation"> Abbreviations like cont. defn. etc.

>> They don't use small-caps and give some lame
>> 'doesn't work in all environments' excuse.
>
> It's lame indeed. "Doesn't work at all" would be better, if we're
> discussing the WWW. Prove me wrong by giving the URL of web page that
> contains small-caps text. Fake "small-caps" won't do. (Rule of thumb:
> the height of a real small-caps letter is close to the x-height of the
> font. And you _don't_ create it by using a capital letter in reduced
> font size.)

Only too happy to oblige. Try this page:
http://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=4355
click the attachment called "layout-tests/fast/css/009.html"

You will need to apply the patch to a suitable revision of WebKit  
first, and have fonts with small-caps installed.

>> The same excuse they use
>> for stripping all diacritics off foreign words.
>
> It's not comparable at all, since diacritics generally work fine on  
> the
> web.

Yeah, but the Beeb still give the same excuse not to use them! If they  
were that concerned about lesser mediums they could modify Betsie to  
strip the diacritics off and pass Teletext pages through there before  
broadcasting them.

> And BBC probably drops diacritics only when they are relevant, in
> words that are really foreign to the editors.


No, most editors drop them pervasively, probably because they don't  
know how to type them. Some BBC editors/journalists do use them, and  
seem to ignore the house style.

- Nicholas.

Received on Thursday, 10 January 2008 10:15:01 GMT

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