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Re: The missing Sentence tag

From: Thomas A. Fine <fine@head.cfa.harvard.edu>
Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2012 10:46:20 -0500
Message-ID: <50C0BDCC.2060201@head.cfa.harvard.edu>
To: Lee Kowalkowski <lee.kowalkowski@googlemail.com>
CC: public-html <public-html@w3.org>
On 12/6/12 5:31 AM, Lee Kowalkowski wrote:
> Being interested in semantics doesn't always mean tags.  There would be
> nothing wrong with using a HTML entity that represented sentence
> spacing, except there'd need to be a character in the character set
> specifically for it.

But since I have an interest in both formatting and semantics, a tag is 
the best choice.  IMHO.  An HTML entity is something I've considered. 
There's nothing in Unicode that I've found that would serve this 
purpose, and if there were, it's unclear to me if attaching CSS behavior 
to a particular entity is a reasonable approach.  Still, it's an 
interesting notion and if it's easy or possible to create an entity to 
mark sentences I would be willing to consider that as a reasonable solution.

> What's the proposed tag name, <sentence>?  You won't get many authors
> marking up their sentences using that, even if they don't like the
> default sentence spacing, it's just too much effort. This would require
> authors that maintain their content in a markdown format to have some
> natural language processing applied to achieve this, but would be
> annoying/uncontrollable if it inserted sentence tags where they
> shouldn't be.

<s> would be ideal to sort of go with <p>, but it's "taken", and even 
though it is deprecated I wouln't argue for it's re-use as it makes 
backward compatibility a bit murkier.  <sn> or <snt> would be my next 

Regardless of the tag, I'm hardly arguing that everyone would use this. 
  It's more effort and only a minority would likely have an interest. 
This could be alleviated by software, where HTML generators could offer 
default sentence parsing and let the user override as needed, sort of 
like spell checking.

> I didn't like the default sentence spacing until I read
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing, now I just don't care,
> even though I habitually use two spaces after a sentence when I type,
> force of habit, that's what I was told to do at school, but apparently,
> I shouldn't:
> http://www.penmachine.com/2011/01/stop-typing-2-spaces-after-period.
>   There are many articles like this, that say since proportional fonts,
> there's never been any need to care about using a different sentence
> spacing than normal word spacing.  I really need to stop typing that
> way!  I might actually have something for a New Year's resolution for once.

The Wikipedia article is a royal mess.  And there are many articles like 
the one you linked, all mostly repeating each others' unsupportable 
modern myths of typography.  One of the myths mentioned in the article 
you link to says that because HTML can't do wide sentence spacing this 
is proof that wide sentence spacing should not be used.  But of course 
the reason HTML can't conveniently do wide sentence spacing is more of a 
historical accident and a matter of laziness, and is the very reason I'm 
here right now.

The irony for me is that the financial pressures that were the real 
motivation for eliminating wide sentence spacing from common practice 
don't really apply to the generation of web content.  The industrial 
practices of the print industry of the last 50-75 years don't save us 
paper on the web, and if anything sthey lead to less rather than more 
space for advertising.

Received on Thursday, 6 December 2012 15:47:05 UTC

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