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Specifying the language of content

From: Norbert Lindenberg <Norbert.Lindenberg@Sun.COM>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 18:07:29 -0700
To: www-i18n-comments@w3.org
Cc: Norbert Lindenberg <Norbert.Lindenberg@Sun.COM>
Message-id: <7DE0E497-E4E9-11D8-8B31-000A95B17B2E@sun.com>

Dear Richard,

I came across the document "Authoring Techniques for XHTML & HTML 
Internationalization: Specifying the language of content 1.0" at 
http://www.w3.org/TR/i18n-html-tech-lang/. While this is a very useful 
document overall, I have a few comments:

1) It would be good to provide some examples for how user agents use 
the language information. There are two examples mentioned in the 
abstract, but it seems to me that the most common use of language 
information on the web currently is for font selection for documents 
sent as UTF-8. Or what other use do the user agents listed in section 
1.4 make of language information?

2) Item http://www.w3.org/TR/i18n-html-tech-lang/#ri20040429.094220724 
says "Do not use the meta tag to declare the language of a document." 
The justification is that "tag is not widely recognized by current user 
agents." While I agree that using the meta tag alone is insufficient, I 
don't see any problem with using it in addition to the lang attributes. 
The meta tag makes the information available in the HTTP header, and in 
some cases that's all a user agent gets to see (e.g., when making an 
HTTP HEAD request). What's wrong with that?

3) Item http://www.w3.org/TR/i18n-html-tech-lang/#ri20040429.113217290 
says "Use the codes zh-Hans and zh-Hant to refer to Simplified and 
Traditional Chinese, respectively." These attribute values don't seem 
to have the desired effect on font selection. In my testing with 
several browsers, running in English environments but with full CJK 
support installed, I have not found a single browser that recognizes 
the script codes. The behavior I see is:
   - Internet Explorer 6.0 / Windows: ignore "zh-Hans" and "zh-Hant" 
entirely (i.e., use Japanese font)
   - Mozilla 1.5.1 Mac, Firefox 0.9 Mac: use simplified Chinese font for 
both "zh-Hans" and "zh-Hant".
   - Explorer 5.2.3 Mac: use traditional Chinese font for both "zh-Hans" 
and "zh-Hant".
   - Safari 1.2.2 / Mac: lang attribute doesn't affect font selection.

I can see why zh-Hans and zh-Hant are better in theory, but if they 
don't work, they shouldn't be recommended.

Best regards,
Received on Monday, 2 August 2004 21:13:42 UTC

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