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Re: Emphasis in East Asian scripts

From: Arle Lommel <arle.lommel@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2011 11:35:20 +0100
Message-Id: <EF3363A1-3160-46D8-BB34-8A95845CEF2D@gmail.com>
To: www-style@w3.org
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: you’d never (at least as far as I know) see italics in typographically sound texts composed in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. (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.

At the same time, there are some other complexities arising from how people actually use <em> in the wild. 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.

The correctly formatted Japanese should be something like this (apologies if the Japanese content is bad: thank Google Translate);

<p>私は先週『戦争と平和』をお読みください。</p>

Using Japanese title markers.

(rather than something 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 (and understandable, since most people are concerned with appearance rather than semantic correctness). Just worth keeping in mind that this shows why we need better education for users about how and why to do things the right 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 15:59:33 GMT

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