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Re: Language X within scope of language Y

From: Mark Davis <mark.davis@jtcsv.com>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 18:05:02 -0800
Message-ID: <129701c4fe94$75b7a100$6501a8c0@sanjose.ibm.com>
To: "Peter Constable" <petercon@microsoft.com>, <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>, <www-international@w3.org>, <ietf-languages@iana.org>

I agree. Big gray area. And in practice, I suspect that 99.428571% of the
time, even if someone *could* annotate a document to indicate that an
embedded word, sentence, or phrase is French instead of English, they won't.
So one certainly couldn't depend on it happening in arbitrary documents,
even if the capability is there (eg in HTML or XML).

On the other hand, within a closed environment, such as a linguistics
research project, such capabilities might be used, and then depended on.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Constable" <petercon@microsoft.com>
To: <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>; <www-international@w3.org>;
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 17:26
Subject: RE: Language X within scope of language Y

> From: Mark Davis [mailto:mark.davis@jtcsv.com]

> Also, because words get adopted over time, and become "more and more"
> considered a natural part of the language.

I almost mentioned lexical borrowings as an issue. To my knowledge (though
language contact is not an area of expertise for me) linguists have not
established agreed-upon criteria by which to decide that lexical borrowing
has become fully incorporated into another language. The process is
certainly a gradual one.

So, for instance, most English speakers would have no clue that
"conversation" came into English from French. Most are probably aware that
"faux pas" comes from French, but would not be conscious of that each time
they use it. (Another example that's probably further along in
internalization would be American usage of "foyer" in which the
pronunciation is fully Anglicised (Canadians and Brits say /foije/.) I'd
guess that most times an English speaker uses "nom de plume" or "bête noir"
they are conscious of the French origin though some might feel this has been
adopted into their working vocabulary. And I'd guess any time an English
speaker used "adieu", "un bon idée" or several other expressions they might
use in an English conversation that they'd perceive themselves as having
switched temporarily to French.

So, at what point do you tag xml:lang="en" versus xml:lang="fr"? There are
no well-defined answers to this one.

Peter Constable
Received on Thursday, 20 January 2005 02:05:08 UTC

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