W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > September 2011

Re: Emphasis in East Asian scripts

From: Arle Lommel <arle.lommel@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2011 15:17:37 +0100
Message-Id: <31F18C24-81A7-4E4C-95E0-DB391D96FC6A@gmail.com>
To: www-style@w3.org, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
[I tried posting a somewhat different version of this earlier, but it didn't seem to go through, so please accept my apologies if you end up seeing this twice.]

Although everybody italicizes CJK text, technically that is an error, at least as far as native conventions go. It's a clear marker of *naive* localization/translation: you’d never (at least as far as I know) see italics in typographically sound texts composed in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. (Also, in most cases italic CJK text is simply *oblique* by the rendering agent and most CJK fonts do not have true italic variants at all.) From a localization viewpoint, it would be ideal if the selection of the appropriate emphasis style was handled using the lang selector.

On the other hand, there would be a clear need to educate the user/authoring community to avoid some strange side effects. For example, if you have code like this in English:

<p>I read <em>War and Peace</em> last week.</p>

(I know that this isn’t how you *should* handle book titles in HTML, but you see code like this all the time because it's the easiest way to get things to look right.)

The correctly formatted Japanese should be something like this with Japanese title markers (apologies if the Japanese content from a well-known online translation engine is bad):

<p>私は先週『戦争と平和』をお読みください。</p>

Rather than something that has italics or that looks like:

<p>私は先週<span style="text-emphasis-style:filled sesame;">戦争と平和</span>をお読みください。</p>

Which would be wrong.

So using 'text-emphasis-style' in CJK would result in errors in some translation environments. I don't know that there is a good way to address this sort of thing since it arises from common usage. Just worth keeping in mind that this shows why we need better education for users about how and why to do things the right (i.e., internationalized) way.

-Arle Lommel
Globalization and Localization Association (GALA)

> I'm attending the W3C MultilingualWeb Workshop in Limeric, Ireland,
> and a rather good question emerged related to the <em> element:
> 
>> should the <em> element be rendered using ‘text-emphasis-style'
>> instead of 'font-style: italic' for East Asian languages using the
>> :lang() pseudo?
> 
> </Daniel>
Received on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 15:59:32 GMT

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