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RE: Alternatives for the term 'primary language'

From: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 19:01:03 +0100
To: "'Christophe Strobbe'" <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>, <www-international@w3.org>
Message-ID: <006e01c6994a$7df3d800$6401a8c0@w3cishida>

Chaps, 

Thanks for your thoughts on 'primary language'.

Bottom line wrt my current thinking: I have experimented with Chris Lilly's
suggestion of 'language of the intended audience', replacing 'primary
language' with that or some variant throughout
http://www.w3.org/International/geo/html-tech/tech-lang.html (rough change
marking shows locations of changes), and I quite like it.  I think it
actually works ok.  We preserve the original distinction, but without the
potentially confusing buzz-word.


For a more detailed discussion read on...

> <blockquote>
> In addition, 'primary language' doesn't really convey the 
> meaning of the idea expressed at [1].  The meaning is 
> intended to convey the language of the intended audience of 
> the document, referring to the document as a whole, and 
> contrasted with 'text-processing language' in that more than 
> one language value makes sense in some circumstances.
> </blockquote>
> 
> WCAG 2.0 uses 'primary natural language' in the sense of the 
> language of the intended audience of the document, but this 
> language needs to be marked up or defined in a way that it 
> can be used for text processing language, e.g. by 
> text-to-speech engines (so specifying the primary language in 
> an HTTP header is not sufficient).

Yes, exactly.  That sounds logical to use 'primary language' in this sense.

However, we had approached the definition from a slightly different angle.
We started with a difference between language declarations that used
attributes, and language declarations that used HTTP/meta elements.  The
former identified a specific language of a specific range of text (which
could be the whole document, but could only be one language at a time), and
the latter more vaguely pointed at the expected linguistic abilities of the
intended readers of the document as a whole.  We then looked for terms to
distinguish these two different *types of declaration*. We chose the term
'text-processing language' to denote the language designated by the former,
and 'primary language(s)' to denote the languages designated by the latter -
so we were using 'primary language' to denote not only the language of the
intended audience, *but as declared using HTTP/metadata*.

So I think we are defining slightly different things in our uses of 'primary
language', and I'm thinking that i18n should probably change rather than
WCAG (I've never been totally happy with our use of 'primary language').  I
did think that something along the lines of
'metadata-about-the-document-as-a-whole-implying-its-intended-audience
language(s)' was more what we were searching for, but couldn't find a snappy
way to say that. 

Note, btw, that it is possible for the attributes on the html tag to refer
to something other than the language of the intended audience, eg. where a
rough and ready translation has taken place of the essential content, but
not the surrounding navigation.  

Note also that the html attribute declaration could quite probably be (and
in most cases is) the intended language of the target audience too.

I think the new wording skirts around these issues, and substitutes clarity
in the place of a (somewhat dubious) buzz-word that one had to remember the
meaning of.

I don't think we can as easily give up on 'text-processing language'
however.

RI





============
Richard Ishida
Internationalization Lead
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)

http://www.w3.org/People/Ishida/
http://www.w3.org/International/
http://people.w3.org/rishida/blog/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ishida/
 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-international-request@w3.org 
> [mailto:www-international-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of 
> Christophe Strobbe
> Sent: 26 June 2006 14:05
> To: www-international@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Alternatives for the term 'primary language'
> 
> 
> Hi Richard, All,
> 
> 
> At 12:00 26/06/2006, Richard Ishida wrote:
> <blockquote>
> The new WCAG draft is using the term 'primary language' in a 
> different way than we have defined it in  "Authoring 
> Techniques for XHTML & HTML
> Internationalization: Specifying the language of content 1.0" 
> [1].  There are other, older, uses of the term 'primary 
> language' that also do not conform to our usage in this document.
> </blockquote>
> 
> Do you think that WCAG should use another term?
> 
> 
> <blockquote>
> In addition, 'primary language' doesn't really convey the 
> meaning of the idea expressed at [1].  The meaning is 
> intended to convey the language of the intended audience of 
> the document, referring to the document as a whole, and 
> contrasted with 'text-processing language' in that more than 
> one language value makes sense in some circumstances.
> </blockquote>
> 
> WCAG 2.0 uses 'primary natural language' in the sense of the 
> language of the intended audience of the document, but this 
> language needs to be marked up or defined in a way that it 
> can be used for text processing language, e.g. by 
> text-to-speech engines (so specifying the primary language in 
> an HTTP header is not sufficient).
> 
> 
> <blockquote>
> Perhaps the time has come to think of an alternative term.
> 
> We would like your suggestions.
> 
> Brainstormed suggestions so far include:
>          document language
>          audience language
>          web unit language
>          language metadata
>          language metadata declaration
>          document language metadata
>          readership language
>          default langauge
>          base language
>          main language
> </blockquote>
> 
> 'Web unit language' would be consistent with the use of the 
> term 'web unit' 
> in WCAG 2.0, but the adjective 'natural' is lost. Do you 
> think it is superfluous?
> 
> I can imagine that many HTML authors would associate 
> 'language metadata' 
> (and other compounds with 'metadata') with the meta element; 
> I wouldn't be surprised if the WCAG WG would be reluctant to 
> use one of these compounds instead of 'primary natural 
> language' for this reason.
> 
> 
> <blockquote>
> 'Document language' seemed interesting at one point, but is 
> probably not specific enough - particularly when the term is 
> translated into other languages.
> 
> Current favourites are
>          readership language (sounds a bit clunky)
>          audience language
> </blockquote>
> 
> The 'primary language or languages of the intended audience' 
> (based on Chris Lilley's suggestion) seems to cover the 
> intent of WCAG 2.0 (see [1] and [2]), but WCAG tries to avoid 
> words like 'intent' to keep the success criteria testable.
> 
> 
> [1] 
> http://www.w3.org/TR/2006/WD-WCAG20-20060427/guidelines.html#meaning
> [2] 
> http://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/Overview.html#meanin
g-doc-lang-id
> 
> 
> Best regards,
> 
> Christophe Strobbe
> 
> 
> --
> Christophe Strobbe
> K.U.Leuven - Departement of Electrical Engineering - Research 
> Group on Document Architectures Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 - 
> 3001 Leuven-Heverlee - BELGIUM
> tel: +32 16 32 85 51
> http://www.docarch.be/ 
> 
> 
> Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm
> 
> 
Received on Monday, 26 June 2006 18:01:18 GMT

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