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Re: I18N Repsonse to XHTML2 comment 35c

From: Steven Pemberton <steven.pemberton@cwi.nl>
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 16:56:40 +0200
To: "Addison Phillips" <addison.phillips@quest.com>, w3c-html-wg@w3.org
Cc: xhtml2-issues@mn.aptest.com, public-i18n-core@w3.org
Message-ID: <opsogg4qq1smjzpq@r600.lan>

On Tue, 29 Mar 2005 13:35:22 -0800, Addison Phillips  
<addison.phillips@quest.com> wrote:

> Dear HTML WG,
> On this issue you said:
> <q xml:lang="en-GB">
> 35c: Since the behaviour in *correct* situations (i.e. when the document
> really is in that language) will be identical, and only in error  
> situations
> will be different (and in XHTML2 clearer than in XHTML1), we believe that
> retaining the name is acceptable.</q>
> We believe quite strongly that this is a mistake and would like you to  
> reconsider.

Let's take an example.

Suppose someone whose preferred language (in their browser language  
preferences) is German clicks on

	<a href="doc" hreflang="ja">The document in Japanese</a>

in an HTML4 document and in an XHTML2 document.

There are several possibilities for the resource named "doc":
	1) It is in Japanese
	2) It is available in several languages according to accept-lang,
	   one of which is Japanese, and for the sake of argument, also in German
		(an example is  
		 which will be served according to your language preferences)
	3) It is not available in Japanese, but for the sake of argument, in  
	4) It is available in Chinese and German
	5) It is available in Chinese and Thai

Here is what the user will get in each case:

1)	Japanese	Japanese
2)	German	Japanese
3)	Chinese	Depends on server
4)	German	Depends on server
5)	Random	Depends on server

"Depends on server" means that the webmaster can decide how to respond to  
requests for a Japanese version of a document that isn't available in  

So it is difficult to see in what way this is "overriding the wishes of  
the user". Remember, we are pointing them to the Japanese version of the  
document. If the user doesn't want the Japanese version of the document,  
they shouldn't click on a link taking them there. If the author doesn't  
want to override the user's language preferences, they shouldn't include  
an hreflang attribute, but let language negotiation do the work.

On the other hand, the advantage of the XHTML2 version is hopefully  
obvious from the above: unlike HTML4, if the document is in Japanese, the  
user will really get it, and if it isn't, the webmaster has the ability to  
give some friendly message to the user explaining why they didn't get the  
Japanese version they were expecting.

Best wishes,

Steven Pemberton
For the HTML WG
Received on Wednesday, 30 March 2005 14:56:49 UTC

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