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Re: [css21] 5.12.2 The :first-letter pseudo-element (the Dutch "ij")

From: Rijk van Geijtenbeek <rijk@opera.com>
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 13:55:30 +0200
To: "WWW Style" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <opsd7p2sn4icz8n2@rijk-01.lan>

On Sun, 12 Sep 2004 01:14:27 +0200, Daniël Pelsmaeker  
<daniel.pelsmaeker@zonnet.nl> wrote:

..

> In Dutch IJ isn't read or treated in any way as a single letter.

Opinions differ :)

> At the
> beginning of a sentence, the 'ij' is written as IJ only because it shows
> nicer:
>
> Consider the following sentences:
> Ijsjes zijn lekker.
> IJsjes zijn lekker.
> The latter just looks nicer,

Looks nicer for the Dutch and Flemish viewer only I guess, who are used to  
treating 'ij' as a single letter, often mixing it up with y. In handwritten  
form, ÿ and ij look exactly the same. According to the dictionaries and  
linguists, IJ is just a combination of two letters and comes between II and  
IK. But in common language, IJ is considered to be the 25th letter of the  
alphabet, and often comes between X and Z in encyclopedias. The 'real' Y,  
as used in foreign words only in Dutch, is referred to as the 'Greek Y'.

> but I think this applies to any language
> written with Latin characters, and not only to the Dutch language.

I think this is a very specific issue for the Dutch language.

> If there are many more languages which may have multiple characters at  
> the beginning of a text block which should be captured by :first-letter,  
> then it might be nice to have one simple rule for the number of  
> characters selected by :first-letter. Something like this perhaps:
> first-letter-length: 2;
>
> A webpage author might want to use this rule in the style-attribute of  
> the containing element, instead of creating a special SPAN element just  
> for the layout of those two characters (and the problem of the parent  
> element's layout of the first character on top of the SPAN's layout).

Adding such styles directly into paragraphs that happen to begin with IJ  
seems like overkill, and hinders the separation of style and content. As  
long as browsers don't support language-specific text treatment, we Dutch  
just  have to cope with it I guess, or use the special Unicode characters.  
Maybe we should rename the IJssel and the IJsselmeer... I saw 'IJssel'  
written as 'Ijssel' in Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver :(

-- 
The Web is a procrastination apparatus:    |  Rijk van Geijtenbeek
It can absorb as much time as              |   Documentation & QA
is required to ensure that you             |   Opera Software ASA
won't get any real work done.  - J.Nielsen |  mailto:rijk@opera.com M
Received on Sunday, 12 September 2004 11:57:13 GMT

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