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Re: what's the language of a document ?

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2009 22:52:02 -0700
Cc: Tex Texin <textexin@xencraft.com>, 'Divya Manian' <divya.manian@gmail.com>, 'Martin Kliehm' <martin.kliehm@namics.com>, 'John Cowan' <cowan@ccil.org>, public-html@w3.org, www-international@w3.org
Message-Id: <D183F35D-7461-4DED-9768-81BD9A6FA344@gbiv.com>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
On Oct 26, 2009, at 10:14 PM, Ian Hickson wrote:
> It's not that the default is monolingual, so much as the model used by
> HTML has a single langauge per Element node. HTML itself supports  
> multiple
> languages, but not in the vague "there are multiple languages present"
> sense, only at the specific per-element level. This is compatible  
> with all
> the systems I'm aware of except HTTP. For example, RDF only supports  
> one
> language per text literal, and spelling checkers generally expect a  
> single
> language per word.

How is that not compatible with HTTP?

> In fact, based on what I've seen of the way the relevant HTTP  
> headers are
> used, I would personally recommend just changing the HTTP spec to only
> allow one language there also, since few people use this to specify
> multiple languages, and I'm not aware of any software that makes use  
> of
> this information.

The HTTP headers refer to the entire representation.   If the
representation is intended to have an audience of multiple
languages, as is often the case when side-by-side translation
is desired or mandated, then the content should be labeled
appropriately.  That use case is often found in government
documents, poetry, lieder, language lessons, dictionaries, etc.

I would expect HTML content to be tagged as a single language,
if any, at some element level, whereas meta and link should
support multiple languages at the resource or representation
level.

....Roy
Received on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 05:52:32 GMT

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