Updated tests & results: Language declarations



These tests examine whether language information is available for text processing when declared in various different ways.

The format of the tests was improved, and the 6th test page was dropped (dealing with language attributes on block elements) since it replicates tests elsewhere.

The results were rewritten to reflect behavior of the latest major browsers.

I would welcome reports of findings for major browsers on Mac and Linux platforms.

Summary of latest results:

Declaring the language in the html tag works for all features we know to be supported.

A default text-processing language declared in the HTTP header is not recognized by any user agent for automatic font assignment. It is, however, recognized by Firefox for use of the :lang pseudo-attribute. This supports the contention that this form of declaration is best used for labeling metadata about the intended audience, and not as a method of indicating the default text processing language (or at least not the primary method).

Where multiple languages are declared in the HTTP header, again only Firefox took advantage of that. What was surprising was that both the first and second values were recognized. This means that there is a lack of clarity about what the actual language of the text is at any given point.

None of the user agents tested was able to detect language declared in the meta tag, even if they did detect it when declared elsewhere. This has interesting implications that support the advice in the i18n techniques documents that declarations in meta statements can be used to declare the metadata about the intended audience of a document, but should not be used for declaring the default text processing language. The results also contradict much of the advice given on the Web about how to declare language, and go against the behaviour of at least one commonly used authoring tool that adds language information to your document in this way.

Richard Ishida
Internationalization Lead
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)


Received on Friday, 15 August 2008 11:07:30 UTC