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Re: UA style sheet for <q>

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2008 12:53:53 -0500
Cc: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <B6737414-60B1-4B7B-B299-9873DE20013F@robburns.com>
To: "Thomas Broyer" <t.broyer@gmail.com>
Hi Thomas,

On Oct 30, 2008, at 11:28 AM, Thomas Broyer wrote:

> On Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 4:49 PM, Simon Pieters wrote:
>> It's *|:lang(...) > q instead of q:lang(...) to handle quotes in  
>> different
>> languages correctly, although I don't know if it handles nested  
>> quotes in
>> different languages correctly
> Probably not, as I've been told (probably read on this list, otherwise
> during researches on the Web) that quotes from foreign languages in an
> English document should use English quotation marks (even at the
> second level).
> (I seem to remember someone thus proposing "html:lang(en)" as a
> selector to attach the "quotes" property to: html:lang(en) { quotes:
> """ """ "'" "'" } )

A third option that I raised earlier[1], is that the quotation style  
should be localized to the user's preferred language locale. In other  
words if a user selects US English (en-US), the stylesheet applied for  
quotations would be different than if the user selected French (like  
fr-FR). A multilingual reader may be familiar with quotation styles in  
other languages, but may sill prefer the more familiar locale/cultural  
presentation of quotations. This could be handled in a variety of ways  
by UAs such as loading alternate stylesheets from localized strings or  
assisting users in composing and editing their own user stylesheet  
with important keyword entries. I raise this because I think this is  
an ambiguity in how to attach presentation styles that may be best  
left for the individual user to decide (with some sane and common  

It's important to keep in mind though that the compilation of these  
rules Simon proposes is merely a default UA styling approach. Many  
authors will want to customize the styling of their quotations but we  
should be facilitating this for authors by providing complete  
mechanisms that respect the separation of concerns. That is authors  
should be able to achieve their chosen quotation styling approach  
using stylesheets and without needing to further edit their HTML.

>> and it certainly doesn't handle French quoting
>> rules correctly, where the end quote and start quote should be  
>> omitted when
>> split up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angle_quotes#French
> Wouldn't it suggest the inserted text be marked up as a child of the
> Q, rather than really splitting the Q in two?
>   <q>C'est une belle journée pour les Montréalais<XXX>, soutient le
> ministre</XXX>. Ces investissements stimuleront la croissance
> économique.</q>
> which could be styled as (omitting language-sensitive information):
>   q::before { content: open-quote; }
>   q::after { content: close-quote; }
>   q XXX::before { content: close-quote; }
>   q XXX::after { content: open-quote; }

I think that is one approach that makes sense. In a way this approach  
would be similar to other editorial comments that might be variously  
styled within quotations such as:

A spokesperson said, <q>The cartel has no intention of gouging <span  
title='them' class='editorial-insertion' >their customers</span> just  
because of the current crisis.</q>

which might be rendered as:

A spokesperson said, “The cartel has no intention of gouging [their  
customers] just because of the current crisis.”

with a floating hover view displaying “them” as the original  
quotation. Again, such presentation might vary widely from one styling  
authority to another.

However, for the French example an attribute or context might also  
provide the necessary semantic hooks to enable a styling mechanism to  
style correctly.

  <q quoteid='identifier1' cite='SoutientMinistre@min.gov.fr' >C'est  
une belle journée pour les Montréalais</q>, soutient le ministre. <q  
quoteid='identifier1' cite='SoutientMinistre@min.gov.fr' >Ces  
investissements stimuleront la croissance économique.</q>

Such markup (or something similar using attributes) could provide the  
necessary semantic hooks to indicate for styling mechanisms that these  
two quotation fragments could be treated as one for the purpose of  
styling (and therefore providing a CSS mechanism to optionally omit  
the interceding quotation marks).

> But other aspects of French style are not supported either (not only
> related to quotations):
>   Il répondit : <q>Ce n'est qu'un <em>gadget !</em></q>
> if you choose to use guillemets for <em>s (<em> might not be
> appropriate here, but it certainly isn't a <q> either), is rendered as
> follows:
>   Il répondit : « Ce n'est qu'un « gadget ! ».
> (second 'close-quote' omitted)
> And of course, there's still the "problem" of "kerned" punctuation (in
> the first example above, the comma comes after the » while in en-US it
> would come before the ")

Russian also makes use of this styling convention.

Again for both of these preceding issues, see my earlier post[1] which  
proposed some potential styling mechanisms to address these issues  
(with nothing else necessary from HTML).

>> I was thinking of setting up a wiki page somewhere for this so  
>> people can
>> fix and expand on it, if we decide to go down this road.
> I'm really not so sure <q> should generate quotation marks *by  
> default*
> (and I'm sorry for the IE team, though I guess using "content:
> open-quote" without previously setting the "quotes" property would
> have the same result, i.e. use their language-sensitive defaults)

I've seen no one expound a compelling reason for not leaving quotation  
styling to a styling mechanism instead of hard coding the styling in  
the HTML document. Certainly authors have different views about what  
style should be used for quotations, but that just further underscores  
the need to provide sufficient styling mechanisms to meet authors  
needs and to provide only semantic hooks for those styling mechanisms  
within HTML (though authors would be free to follow a non-separation  
of concerns approach as many do today).

Take care,

[1]: <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Oct/0241.html>
Received on Thursday, 30 October 2008 17:54:36 UTC

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