W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2008

Re: Marking Up Poetry

From: Sam Kuper <sam.kuper@uclmail.net>
Date: Fri, 29 Feb 2008 15:43:17 +0000
Message-ID: <4126b3450802290743j3da60967r192fa391d1dc0d77@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Dr. Olaf Hoffmann" <Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
It strikes me that what Olaf is trying to get across here is something
rather fundamental along the following lines. Please, Olaf, correct me if
I'm wrong, and forgive the crude paraphrase.

"There are basically two forms natural language comes in:

- prose
- poetry

All texts, regardless of domain (law, cookery, transportation, literature,
science, lyrics, whatever), are composed of some amount of prose, poetry or

HTML is good at marking up prose text, but not poetry text. Support poetry
and you cover all natural language text.

An implicit point is that all text that is not poetry is prose, so things
like legalese, footers and list items are typically prose. (One could
conceivably have a poetry footer, or a country might decide that all its
legal documents are to be written in verse, but by current norms these would
be atypical cases to say the least.)"

Now, assuming my understanding of Olaf's position isn't grossly wrong, I'm
in two minds about how progress should be made. Should we accept or reject
the premise that natural language takes only the two forms prose and poetry?

If we accept it, then I'm inclined to agree with Olaf that poetry markup
should be included in HTML5. This is a very different position than
suggesting that markup for specific applications (legal documents, for
instance) should be supported by HTML, because it's not about the
application of texts, it's about what texts *are*.

If we reject it, then it means we're viewing poetry as an application of
text, on a par with statutes, timetables, etc. In this case, I think that
the HTML5 spec should be redrafted to make elements more application
neutral** and should, perhaps, even deprecate many of them in favour of more
flexible, user-specifiable semantic markup that can be tailored to
application domains such as poetry.

**E.g. statements like "the p element represents a paragraph", which uses
the prose-specific terms "paragraph", should be neutralised.
Received on Friday, 29 February 2008 15:43:57 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Saturday, 9 October 2021 18:44:27 UTC