W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > January to March 2004

RE: simple language testable thing

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2004 22:22:22 -0500 (EST)
To: Jens Meiert <jens.meiert@erde3.com>
Cc: mikba@microsoft.com, seeman@netvision.net.il, y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.55.0402052154380.617@homer.w3.org>

On Thu, 5 Feb 2004, Jens Meiert wrote:

>> [...] that "bon mot" is an english phrase in the
>> rich english of literature (or the literary english of the rich, perhaps).
>Sorry, but hear ye! And hence, foreign language use is okay? Sounds like
>there are double standards applied; I think there must be a precise statement
>first, otherwise, we're all just spinning around.
>> But it isn't simple vocabulary one can expect of everyone.
>Is there any vocabulary you can? Ain't it in the nature of language, that
>there are blendings, differences, growth etc.? If I'd be asked to use the
>vocabulary all my friends or colleagues do, I simply wouldn't know.

What if we asked you to find a glossary of terms they do know (say, your old
illustrated primary school dictionary) and another one, with words you use,
that links to explanations which only use the words that are in teh primary
school dictionary?

>> I think the solution technique is the same as for complex
>> vocabulary [...]
>> ... use of a foreign <a href="http://example.com/k-7glossary?
>> bon_mot">bon mot</a>, even though...
>That nips all more or less sophisticated writing in the bud, ain't it? [...]

If you mean "a presentation relying on sophistry to carry an air of
authority", I am not sure that's a bad thing. But I don't think that is
actually the case. A lot of clever advertising isn't actually based on
complex ideas.

I also don't think it has much impact on whether complex and powerful ideas
can be explained. But some of us, who write too much long-winded and complex
text, will have to think about how to write clearly.

And as I pointed out to Mike, WAI doesn't ban anything. It merely points out
that some stuff is inaccessible.  I am not a fan of "Blue Poles" - once
purchased by the Australian government as the most expensive painting ever,
to a large outcry at the time and to plaudits later. I don't think it's
terribly interesting. Nor accessible. But I don't see it being banned for

On the other hand, in a battlefield situation I want to be certain that the
person at the end of the chain of command understands, whatever their known,
hidden, or newly-acquired disability. I don't see any reason to stop people
being engineers, nor even put big difficulties in their way, if they are
capable engineers but struggle with Shakespeare. Language used for clear and
successful comunication in the modern world is generally different from
language used for artistic expression (although there is obviously plenty of
overlap). This is not new, is not restricted to english and is difficult to
pin down.

I get upset when my colleagues who are not native english speakers assert
that english is a "artistically poor and restricted language, but good for
technical stuff", based on their experience of groups of non-native speakers
with different backgrounds and different levels of skill searching of a
common communications mechanism at conferences and meetings. The english I
grew up with is extremely rich in expression, but often not very precise - a
bit like the mixture of latin and its vernacular cousins (now known
as french, romanian, spanish, catalan, italian, and so on) was a few
centuries ago, when it had a similar role.

>> ... use of a foreign <ruby class="coolGloss"><rb>bon mot</rb>
>> <rt>clever word or two</rt></ruby>, even though...
>CMIIW, but this is abuse of Ruby markup. -- Theoretically and to be
>constructive, you could better use markup like

I haven't thought really hard about the actual result markup. I don't think
it is an abuse of ruby, looking at the examples in the specification, but I
don't claim my example was of perfect result markup. It ws just to illustrate
an idea about how all this discussion could actually have a result people can

>> [...] lots of literature is not accessible to everyone who speaks the
>> base language it was written in. Which strikes me as uncontroversial.
>Agreed, but it's written in its base language, ain't it? -- Last but not
>least, and to summarize the main issues:
>- Is this really an important issue in WAI terms [1]?
>- What wording has to be explained, where ain't an explanation needed?
>- What way(s) of semantic highlighting should be recommended?
>If these questions (of course and above all, the first) are answered, there
>should be a general discussion on it, not yet.

I think I agree with AL there - there are grounds for this discussion being
treated seriously as an issue in improving accessibility, and it is hard to
define a stop point or minimal set of vocabulary (and language
constructions). That would need some thoughtful discussion and probably some
more collective thought.

By "ways of semantic highlighting", I am assuming you mean "what should the
available results look and feel like?" (I might have misunderstood your
term). We don't seem to agree on the role of ruby markup. There are various
discussions on this idea in this group, other groups around W3C, work on
thesauri, projects putting this stuff into practice. Again, I don't think we
can declare consensus on any answer yet, but I think we have the basis for
useful discussion.


Received on Thursday, 5 February 2004 22:22:22 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Thursday, 24 March 2022 21:07:32 UTC