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Re: content guidelines checkpoint 4.1

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 03:09:51 -0400 (EDT)
To: Zachary Mutrux <zacm@etr.org>
cc: WAI <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.21.0008120251010.31128-100000@tux.w3.org>
I think place names and Proper nouns" (such as people's names) are a complex
example case. In English, I use the word London to describe what in french is
descreibed as Londres, and in Jpanese (using romaji characters) as Rondon.
Knowing the language in this case is very helpful.

But I also use the term Nagasaki. This is of foreign origin (relative to
english - the language I am using) but is nevertheless a word in the

Another example is Paris. In french it is pronounced roughly like "paree" and
in english is pronounced roughly as "pariss". 

Often, the wrong pronunciation will make the term incomprehensible
Australians have terrible trouble trying to buy Adidas footwear in the US,
or explain what a "lefftenant" does. We mostly recognise the american
pronunciations now through chronic exposure to american culture in TV and
radio, but not always - "nesslay" may be one of the largest companies on the
supermarket shelves, but in our language it is a pronunciation that is
answered by "never heard of 'em - what do they make?". 

I cannot make a computer understand my voice unless I put on an american
accent, and that is something I am still trying to learn how to do. People
with hearing impairments or cognitive disabilities can have exactly the same
kinds of problems in comprehension, and without the markup to provide
solutions for them we are not going to be able to solve those problems (on
the other hand, with the markup, we can develop tools that will solve the
problem. We could also ignore it, and the people whose problem it is, but
that seems foolish to me.)

So to answer the original question:

In general, I think that place names of foreign origin are recognised as
words in a local language, but there are exceptions, normally for well-known
or important places. There are times when there are two words, originally
from differnt languages but both recognised (in Australian english we use
either "Uluru" or "Ayer's Rock" to describe the big famous rock in the middle
of the country. Only one of those terms came from english) in a particular
language can be used. But in the case of a genuinely foreign name (using
"Londres" to decsribe the capital of england in english, for example) marking
them up is extremely important.

One of the simple things that can be done with properly marked-up place names
is to run a script over them that simply translates them. This is basic
dictionary look-up, and if it hasn't been implemented yet it could be done by
any decent programmer on a long lunch break in a working, if rough, manner.

Charles McCN

On Fri, 11 Aug 2000, Zachary Mutrux wrote:

  What do folks think about place-names of foreign origin? Will marking them
  up following the example provided for checkpoint 4.1 make text more
  4.2 Language information
  Checkpoints in this section: 4.1, and 4.3.
  If you use a number of different languages on a page, make sure that any
  changes in language are clearly identified by using the "lang" attribute:
     <P>And with a certain <SPAN lang="fr">je ne sais quoi</SPAN>,
     she entered both the room, and his life, forever. <Q>My name
     is Natasha,</Q> she said. <Q lang="it">Piacere,</Q>
     he replied in impeccable Italian, locking the door.
  End example.

Charles McCathieNevile    mailto:charles@w3.org    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative                      http://www.w3.org/WAI
Location: I-cubed, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Postal: GPO Box 2476V, Melbourne 3001,  Australia 
Received on Saturday, 12 August 2000 03:09:52 UTC

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