W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > May 2001

Re: first-word pseudo-element

From: Sampo Syreeni <decoy@iki.fi>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 16:17:47 +0300 (EEST)
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
cc: <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.30.0105181457500.7643-100000@kruuna.Helsinki.FI>
On Fri, 18 May 2001, Ian Hickson wrote:

>> All text/visual properties should apply to all languages and writing
>> system.
>
>We'd better drop 'text-transform' then...

Besides, even while most of the world seems to have writing systems that are
a lot more difficult to handle than the ones based on the Latin alphabet,
can this really be a reason to make it impossible for Western CSS users to
achieve Latin specific formattings? We have to remember that vertical text
is only now becoming available in CSS (a clear inequality of writing
systems), and we also have ruby (which is almost exclusively a feature of
Chinese/Japanese typography).

One might say that is because both of the above idioms can be extended to
all text. But that is true about the simplistic version of word spacing as
well - just define words, in the context of CSS, as something delimited by
some subset of Unicode characters. Then if you want word-spacing to work,
use explicit whitespace and/or zero width variants, regardless of language.

Furthermore, the text content in XML consists of abstract Unicode
characters. If we apply word-spacing to the *real* word boundaries in
ideographic text, we would effectively insert something that is better
encoded in the text itself: in Unicode, spaces are first class abstract
characters. They are also absent from widely used character encodings whose
native typography does not utilize word spacing, so to me it would seem
natural to redefine word-spacing as a character level styling functionality
for certain Unicode characters. Otherwise we are trying to relate a
grammatical unit of non-Western languages (word) to a feature of Western
typography (space), which is obviously wrong.

Finally, Far Eastern CSS users might actually be quite happy with this
simple solution, since word related properties could then be specified for
mixed international text without breaking normal ideographic text formatting
in the process. And those who have a specific need to go against the Eastern
typographic tradition could still resort to the foreign idiom, inserting
explicit whitespace.

Sampo Syreeni, aka decoy, mailto:decoy@iki.fi, gsm: +358-50-5756111
student/math+cs/helsinki university, http://www.iki.fi/~decoy/front
Received on Friday, 18 May 2001 09:26:46 GMT

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