RE: meta content-language

Hi Henri,

[changing the copy from public-i18n-core to www-international.  For
newcomers, this thread starts at]

> From: Henri Sivonen []
> Sent: 15 August 2008 08:36
> To: Richard Ishida
> On Aug 14, 2008, at 19:08, Richard Ishida wrote:
> > I would recommend that we keep the language attributes for declaring
> > the
> > default language of the content (the text-processing language) and
> > not muddy
> > the waters by using meta Content-Language declarations fulfill a
> > similar
> > role, because:
> > 1. the acceptable values are different and the meta approach is
> > incompatible
> > with declaring the text-processing language
> The spec could make multiple language tags in Content-Language non-
> conforming and could make processing pick the first language tag.

Note that multiple language tags in Content-Language in the HTTP header are
a perfectly fine way to say "This is a document for people who read both
English and French" for example, ie. meta information about the document
itself.  The Content-Language in the meta tag is modeled on the HTTP header
information, so changing it would in my opinion cause authors to get even
more confused than they already are.  As it stands, it could be used as
in-document metadata for occasions when the HTTP protocol is not available.
I don't think we should close the door on that possibility, especially if an
alternative and more effective and more widely used method of declaring the
default language for processing the document exists (namely the lang
attribute on the html tag).

> > 2. the meta approach is really not used by anything according to the
> > tests I
> > did
> Given that people do put and have put language declarations there, is
> it good to keep ignoring that data?
> Of course, if the data is *wrong* significantly more often than
> lang='' (assuming that the correctness level of lang='' establishes an
> implicit data quality baseline), it would be good to ignore it. My
> guess is that HTTP-level Content-Language is more likely to be wrong> (it
sure is less obvious to diagnose) than any HTML-level declaration.
> (Due to Ruby's Postulate:
> )

I don't think I'd object to using that information as a fallback in the
absence of a lang attribute, although I have the feeling that it is mostly
supplied automatically and therefore likely to be prone to incorrectness.
Add to this the fact that it is not effective anyway in IE7 or Opera.

> > 3. the question of inheritance is unclear when using the meta
> > statement for
> > declaring the text-processing language
> The spec now makes it clear.
> > If the meta statement continues to be allowed, I suggest that it is
> > used in
> > the same way as a Content-Language declaration in the HTTP header,
> > ie. as
> > metadata about the document as a whole, but that such usage is kept
> > separate
> > from use for defining the language of a range of content. As far as
> > I can
> > tell, although Frontpage uses it and people on the Web recommend its
> > use, it
> > has no effect at all on content, and wouldn't be missed if it were
> > dropped.
> What purpose does metadata serve if it isn't actionable?

Metadata is actionable if some application is written to use it.  It is not
actionable if the information is not available.


Received on Friday, 15 August 2008 19:42:53 UTC