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Re: Conformance of DL Groups Missing DT or DD

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2008 06:02:25 +0100
Message-ID: <47C4EEE1.1020107@malform.no>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: "Dr. Olaf Hoffmann" <Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>, public-html@w3.org

Ian Hickson 08-02-26 22.10:
> On Tue, 26 Feb 2008, Dr. Olaf Hoffmann wrote:
> > Note, that dl with only dt or dd as children is sometimes used in
> > HTML4 to markup poems or song texts with a somehow useful
> > structure (as already detailed in the wiki).
> > This seems to be excluded in HTML5 too, but anyway in the
> > current draft most elements seem to be restricted anyway
> > to prose content excluding any poetry.
> The term "prose content" in the spec means elements like <p>, <section>,
> <img>, <em>, <input>, <script>, any text, etc. [...]

There are only 4 prose elements, according to HTML 5 section 3.9:

    3.9 Prose.
    3.9.1 The p element.
    3.9.2 The hr element.
    3.9.3 The br element.
    3.9.4 The dialog element.

> It has nothing to do with poetry being allowed or disallowed.

FIRSTLY: It seems you, throughout, are mistaking 'prose' for the 'prose 
content' cathegory of HTML elements. Olaf's subject, however, was 
'prose' versus 'poetry'.

SECONDLY: Focusing at Olaf's subject, I claim that the 'Prose' section 
contains elements for the "prose use case", in the narrowest meaning of 
that word. A corresponding Poetry section does not exist. And as a 
result, the requirements for poetry texts - and some other common 
none-prose texts- are not as good taken care of as are prose texts. Two 
examples thereof:

     1) Constrained rules for the <dl>, which fails to take into account 
the real world use of the <dl> element for poetry mark-up. See Lachlan's 
message [1]. (As mentioned by Olaf.)
     2) Simon Pieters' message from 5th of March 2007, which you 
referenced and took note of [2], goes against the use of <dl> for 
poetry, when it speaks against "<dd>...<dd>... instead of <dd><p>...<p>".

Had there been a poetry section - instead of only some poetry examples 
here and there, then the spec would probably not have overlooked the 
poetry usecase for <dl> and its "relaxed" use of unmatching <dt>-s and 

THIRDLY: The new <dialog> element was of course not proposed because it 
had, until now, been forbidden to insert dialogs into HTML ... It was 
proposed because <dialog> - which is merely a <dl> list with a new name 
- has a useful structure for dialogs.

And the fact is, that the <dl> list - provided that it is not restricted 
- has a very usefull structure for a lot of texts kinds. Poetry and 
songs are amongst those things that could benefit from <dl>. Other types 
of non-prose text could be law texts, religious texts and historical 
texts, liturgical texts, theather plays etc. All these texts could in 
various forms and ways make use of the <dl> element (I include <dialog> 
when I say <dl> here).

Olaf has documented this in the wikipage about Poetic Semantics. [3] 
(The title of that page is slightly misleading, in my view. I would 
describe the page as a proposal about how the <dl> element  could be 
crafted to cover many kinds of non-prose text, where dialogs is one such 

You yourself has set a pattern for how this could be done when you 
introduced the 'reversed' keyword for the OL list. <ol reversed>. We 
could have gone for <dl dialog> as well. And <dl poetry> and similar. 
(Again, see the wiki.)

> If anyone has suggestions for a better term than "prose content", I'm very
> eager to here them. I don't like the term myself [...]

How about 'running text content'. See Wikipedia [1]. 'Running text' in 
Dictionary.com: "the body of text in a newspaper, magazine, or the like, 
as distinguished from the heads, illustrations, etc". Running text,  
which is also known as 'bread (and butter) text' in German and 
Scandinavian languages, is not directly related to the type of text - 
but merely denotes 'the main bulk of the text'.

[1]Laclan: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Feb/0360.html
[2]Ian: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Feb/0357.html
[3]Olaf: http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/PoeticSemantics
[4]Wikipedia: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_text>
leif halvard silli
Received on Wednesday, 27 February 2008 05:02:43 UTC

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