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Language tags on root (was: Re: XHTML2 review - Please check)

From: Stephen Deach <sdeach@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 08:02:16 -0800
To: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>, public-i18n-core@w3.org, i18n IG <w3c-i18n-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <>

If you recommend/require xml:lang on the html element, don't come up with a 
value for "mixed", instead set the "primary"/"default" language there; then 
allow xml:lang on subnodes within head/body as needed for other languages 
in a mixed-language document. (In fact, it has been my regular 
recommendation for language tagging of all XML document formats to place a 
default/primary language tag on the root node or the highest node above any 
text content; then explicitly subtag any language changes (excluding 
"adopted words", but always tag a word/phrase/etc. you wish to be 
hyphenated/spell-checked/grammar-checked using a different dictionary than 
the base language).

I don't remember how/if Dublin Core handles mixed-language docs (some dc 
entries allow lists of values, others don't), but you might consider a 
metadata component to indicate mixed-language content is present.

It would be of significant impact to existing applications to change 
xml:lang to allow a list, and probably add greater ambiguity/confusion; it 
would be better to add another attribute to carry a list of contained 
languages on the root node is you want it for go/no-go type decisions over 
whether you can accept/read the doc and allow xml:lang to set the 
primary/default language.


At 2005.01.27-14:49(+0000), Richard Ishida wrote:

>I have updated the table of review comments at
>Please check the text and tell me whether I can send to the HTML group.
>You should check, in particular, comments 38a to the end plus any other 
>comments with a number followed by a,b or c.
>Also: When I spoke with Steven Pemberton a few days ago, he said why don't 
>we request that xml:lang be mandatory on the html tag.  Perhaps we could 
>discuss this at the next meeting. Of course, the sticking point would be 
>where you have a mulilingual document. However, may be better to think of 
>an appropriate value for such documents rather than simply abandon the 
>possibility of solving once and for all the problem of people not marking 
>up documents with language information.
>Richard Ishida
>contact info:
>W3C Internationalization:
>Publication blog:

---Steve Deach
Received on Thursday, 27 January 2005 16:02:55 UTC

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