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Re: Expected behaviour of quotation marks

From: Florian Rivoal <florian@rivoal.net>
Date: Sun, 17 Apr 2016 10:36:15 +0900
Cc: W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>, www International <www-international@w3.org>
Message-Id: <49A4391B-83F5-4173-9AE4-805FB6635C95@rivoal.net>
To: ishida@w3.org

> On Apr 15, 2016, at 22:31, ishida@w3.org wrote:
> 
> On 06/04/2016 19:48, ishida@w3.org wrote:
>> This is a question about how quotation marks should behave in
>> multilingual text.
> 
> 
> I created some tests for the q element in HTML, with results for major browsers. See
> 
> https://www.w3.org/International/tests/repo/results/the-q-element
> 
> 
> SUMMARY
> 
> [1] all major desktop browsers put quote marks around content using the q element
> 
> [2] they all use two different quotation marks for nested quotations, but they don't rotate the usage - they just use the secondary quote marks for third and more nested qs
> 
> [3] Chrome, Opera, Safari and Edge all change quote marks as the language changes.  Firefox doesn't.
> 
> [4] The browsers that are language-sensitive follow the recommendations in the HTML5 spec (taken from CLDR) wrt which quotes are used by which language, except that Safari doesn't do the whole list, and occasionally inverts the primary and secondary quote marks.
> 
> [5] Only in Firefox however do the quote marks match the HTML5 recommendation when no language is specified.
> 
> [6] Browsers that are language-sensitive use the CSS rules defined in the HTML5 spec for the default presentation.  This means that the quote marks used around a quotation are based on the language of the quotation itself - even at the top level.
> 
> This means that in an English paragraph our example
> 
> <p>But Lucy replies: <q lang="fr-CA">Embrassez George de ma part - seulement une fois. Dites-lui, <q>Embrouille.</q></q>.</p>
> 
> will produce:
> 
> But Lucy replies: «Embrassez George de ma part - seulement une fois. Dites-lui, ‹Embrouille.› ».
> 
> instead of what people on this thread expect, which is
> 
> But Lucy replies: “Embrassez George de ma part - seulement une fois. Dites-lui, ‘Embrouille.’”.
> 
> 
> A FLY IN THE OINTMENT
> 
> Florian's CSS
> 
> :lang(fr-CA) > *:not(q *) { quotes: "« " " »" "‹ " " ›" }
> :lang(en)    > *:not(q *) { quotes: "“" "”" "‘" "’" }
> 
> produces what's needed for the example as written above. However, there is one situation where it fails, and where afaict, there's not actually a way to produce the desired result.
> 
> If we change our markup slightly, changing the first q into a span, we introduce the change in surrounding language before the q element is encountered.
> 
> <p>But Lucy replies: <span lang="fr-CA">Embrassez George de ma part - seulement une fois. Dites-lui, <q>Embrouille.</q></span>.</p>
> 
> In this case, the quotation is displayed with the quote marks appropriate for the surrounding language, but the surrounding language is not the language of the reader (ie. that of the paragraph, ie. en). The result is:
> 
> But Lucy replies: Embrassez George de ma part - seulement une fois. Dites-lui, « Embrouille. ».
> 
> ie. we now have French quotes around the word Embrouille.  As failures go, i could imagine far worse.  It's still possible to argue that there's some logic in having the French quotes here, even if it's not really what we want, so it's not a complete disaster.
> 
> I can't really see a way around it, other than to *only* set the default quote marks on the basis of the language declared on the html tag. (The user would have to replicate that using CSS for elements lower down the hierarchy if they have a multilingual document.)
> 
> Thoughts?


That was sort of intentional in the way I wrote my selector. Rather than going for the language of the reader as the one to use for the quotation marks, I went with the language surrounding the (potentially nested) quotes.

The only alternative I can think of would be to go with the language of the root element, but that seems arbitrary and more failure prone.

 - Florian
Received on Sunday, 17 April 2016 01:36:42 UTC

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