RE: <q> -- <q><q></q></q> <blockquote> and thought balloons

There have been so many things written on this subject that I have
rather become neglectful in my reading of it. At first the discussion
all seemed very technical and "browsery":  the sorts of things that
"user-agent implementers" like to discuss.  And then, lo, I saw hints
that the discussions were expanding into broader issues of
multi-language support, Chicago manual of style, authorial intent, ... .
What fun!  At the upper end of these discussions we have the basic
philosophy of punctuation and questions such as " what if any difference
is there between the semantics of HTML and the semantics of
punctuation?"  (see also [1])


Generally if A quotes B who quotes C, we assume that C's speech act
predates B's, but this need not always be true. 


If C quotes a previous statement by A who was quoting a putative future
thought by B where the time of the thought by B is, in fact, earlier
than the ostensible reading of C's statement, then certain languages
like Navajo (with its incredibly complex sense of aspect) might be
expected to encapsulate it all in a most eloquent set of grammatical
devices. Should our theories of punctuation not be extended to handle
temporal, probabilistic and epistemic aspects of verbs?


"A said that B would have realized by now that my typing of the sentence
you are now reading was, in fact, unlikely."


Suppose an utterance is expressed in a base language, let's call it
Punctuation ML, for which the primitives of the ML are necessary and
sufficient for the punctuation of human thought (hence, a language more
basic than HTML). Then to what extent might we hope for our PML to be
transformable into either HTML or SVG (through, say, XSLT) as


Contextually, longer quotes might be, in HTML (as augmented by styles)
,naturally translated into indented, differently typefaced segments.
Within the context of the cartoon, rendered in SVG, the very same
utterance might be drawn into a thought balloon emanating from a
characters mouth.  A fundamental substrate language addressing
universals in linguistic punctuation might be, in some sense, a logical
prior step to the development of HTML. Of course, we are, currently,
where we are; so, unless our theory of time involves moving backwards,
it may not be a practical consideration. 


There are times that it seems that HTML is striving to define itself as
that more fundamental markup language in which authorial intent is
conveyed through a modernized and universalized theory of punctuation;
there are times it seems that HTML  is something quite different, though
at the moment I'm not quite able to put my finger on what that might be.






Received on Thursday, 30 October 2008 13:34:29 UTC