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RE: Comment on working draft "Specifying Language in XHTML and HTML Content"

From: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 14:49:35 -0000
To: "'John Cowan'" <cowan@ccil.org>
Cc: <www-international@w3.org>
Message-ID: <00d401c76711$273a5df0$6401a8c0@rishida>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan@ccil.org] 
> Sent: 14 March 2007 19:01
> To: Richard Ishida
> Cc: www-international@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Comment on working draft "Specifying Language in 
> XHTML and HTML Content"
> Richard Ishida scripsit:
> > > I'm really leery about this one. It is extremely fragile. If you 
> > > really wanted to mark the language of an HTML document 
> pointed to, 
> > > this is something that the browser would have a much 
> better job of 
> > > doing, since it could fetch the start of the page (working in the 
> > > background) and pick up the actual language used on the 
> page. So if 
> > > you are evangelizing anyone, I'd think it'd be browser vendors.
> > 
> > I agree that it's something you should be very careful about, but 
> > people are doing it and recommending it.  Note that the 
> best practise 
> > doesn't recommend that you do this - it says that you 
> should carefully 
> > consider the pros and cons - and I think we point out quite a few 
> > cons.  I take the approach that we can't simply dismiss this out of 
> > hand, but we can make people think carefully about whether 
> it's the right thing to do.
> As I understand it, the operational purpose of hreflang (I 
> have no idea which browsers do this, if any) is to set the 
> Accept-Language: header in any HTTP transaction used to fetch 
> the document.  That way you can link to a specific-language 
> version of a document.  The XInclude analogue is the 
> accept-language attribute.

I think that might be proposed for XHTML2, but for HTML 4.01 the spec rather
vaguely says, 
"The hreflang attribute provides user agents with information about the
language of a resource at the end of a link, just as the lang attribute
provides information about the language of an element's content or attribute

Note that it says 'provides user agents', rather than 'provides the server'.
The spec also provides an example where search engines can find a translated
versions of a document at
http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/links.html#h-12.3.3 but I think that's
down to the application or browser reading the hreflang info, rather than
retrieving resources using the Accept-Language header.

I don't know of any browser that uses hreflang information.


Richard Ishida
Internationalization Lead
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)

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Received on Thursday, 15 March 2007 14:50:21 UTC

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