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RE: CleverKeys, dictionary.com and "programmatically located"

From: Yvette P. Hoitink <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2004 23:16:19 +0100
To: "'Wendy A Chisholm'" <wendy@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: <nabe@lab.twcu.ac.jp>, <seeman@netvision.net.il>, <shadi@w3.org>, <charles@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20040319221609.F2AB8A173E@frink.w3.org>

Hello Wendy and list,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wendy A Chisholm [mailto:wendy@w3.org] 
> Sent: vrijdag 19 maart 2004 2:14
> To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
> Cc: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl; nabe@lab.twcu.ac.jp; 
> seeman@netvision.net.il; shadi@w3.org; charles@w3.org
> Subject: CleverKeys, dictionary.com and "programmatically located"
> Language questions:
> 1. Are there similar tools and dictionaries that are freely 
> available in other languages?

I wish! We only have 1 Dutch dictionary online with a reasonable amount of
words. This is http://www.vandale.nl, an abbreviated version of the leading
Dutch dictionary. The website does not conform to WCAG 1. Even people
without disabilities find it hard to find out where to type the word they're
looking for (the _brown_ text box labelled "Zoek een woord in Hedendaags

No other major Dutch dictionaries are available online, at least none that I
know of. I have checked some Dutch dictionary portal sites but most of the
links they give are to translation dictionaries or specialized dictionaries
(the Harry Potter dictionary etc.). 

I do not know of any online dictionary tools for Dutch. Some translation
tools exist, so you could first translate it in English and then look it up
in an English dictionary but this is shaky at best. 

> 2. Assuming there are similar tools for Dutch, how would the 
> results differ for Dutch words that are aggregates of words? 

Dutch dictionaries only list common aggregates. But words you create on the
fly cannot be found in dictionaries. Normally, you just look up the word
anyway and see what the first constituent is. For example if I want to know
what the word "liefdesbrief" means, I look up "liefdesbrief" which I don't
find, but I do find "liefde" which means "love". The 's' is recognized by
most people as a 'glue' letter to glue two words together, so you can then
look up "brief" which means "letter". Combining them gives you "love
letter". (Actually, "liefdesbrief" is so common it will be in most
dictionaries but it's just an example).

> As with idioms, will tools look for the meaning of each separate word?

To do it that way, you first need an algorithm to split the words into their
constituents. This is an area of much research, as I already wrote to the
list earlier. 

But is that necessary? (Most) Dutch people have no problem using
dictionaries to determine the meaning of compound words. Why should we make
it a problem? If we offer a link to a dictionary so that a user can
determine the meaning of the word, than we have achieved our goal haven't
we? I think we should formulate our checkpoint in such a way that the user
can determine the meaning of the words from dictionaries that are provided
or linked to by the web content. I do not think we should require the web
content to automatically determine the meaning of every word.

> 3.  What about Japanese?  Hebrew? Spanish? Arabic?  German? 
> French?  Are there similar tools for these languages?  What 
> issues would tools have in other languages?
> 4. If automatic lookup of words works for some languages and 
> not others, how do we create guidelines that will apply 
> across languages?
> 5. If the tools are possible, but not available today, do we 
> write "lowest common denominator" guidelines that apply 
> across all languages, or do we have different guidelines 
> depending on tools available today?

"Until advanced dictionaries exist ..." sure has a familiar feel to it :-) 

I think we should stick to what we want to say and not get into the
technical implementations required to do that. That's for the techniques

> 6. Is user agent support a sufficient technique?

That question is on a totally different level than your other questions.
Many accessibility problems can be fixed by a certain user agent, but that
doesn't absolve the writers from making their web content accessible. For
example, black letters on a dark blue background can be turned to black and
white by a user agent (e.g. by turning off CSS) but that doesn't stop us
from formulating guidelines about contrast. In WCAG we should focus on
creating accessible content, and let the UAAG handle on how to present that
content in the most accessible way. 

For dictionaries, I think authors should (at level 3) provide links to
dictionaries where users can determine the meaning of the words used in the

BTW: In the Netherlands we also have a minority language called Frisian. No
online explaining dictionaries exist for Frisian, just a Frisian-Dutch
translation dictionary. Since most people who speak Frisian also speak
Dutch, this isn't a problem in most cases.

Yvette Hoitink
Heritas, Enschede, The Netherlands
E-mail: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl
Received on Friday, 19 March 2004 17:16:10 UTC

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