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Re: Nullifying insidious HTML 3.2 constructs

From: Laurens Holst <lholst@students.cs.uu.nl>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 22:16:31 +0100
Message-ID: <42165B2F.5050600@students.cs.uu.nl>
To: Ryan Cannon <ryan@ryancannon.com>, www-style@w3.org

Ryan Cannon wrote:
> I imagine dfn definitions as they appear in text books: within a 
> paragraph about a subject, key vocabulary words defined in context are 
> usually made bold, which is why I set them bold in all my stylesheets by 
> default.
> I'm unsure as to the validity of using dfn for foreign words. 
> Non-English words used within English are _always_ supposed to be 
> italicized if assumed to be unfamiliar to the reader[1], making a 
> legitimate claim for *[lang] { font-style: italic } *[lang!="en"] { 
> font-style: inherit }
>     [1] http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/style/italics.html#Anchor-FOREIGN-46919

Hmm... A few examples of where I would use <dfn>:

"<dfn>forte</dfn> is Italian for ‘strong’, and in music notation is used 
to tell you to play loudly. An even stronger form of this is 

"The <dfn>Hubble space telescope</dfn> floats around the earth at a 
distance of (...)"

"While we were on vacation in France, we went to a nice terrace, where 
they served us <dfn>crème anglaise</dfn>, ironically enough known to us 
as French cream ;)."

"Hier wordt gebruik gemaakt van een zogenaamd <dfn>behavior</dfn>. Een 
behavior is een mechanisme om het gedrag van een element te bepalen..."

I'm unsure in this last one whether the second occurrance of behavior 
should be tagged as well. Anyways, in all of these cases I would want 
them rendered in italics, not bold :).

Maybe I am looking at this a little from the wrong perspective, as in 
Dutch many foreign words from English are actually technical terms... 
But still, I'd say it applies very often, foreign words usually aren't 
used out of the blue but in a certain context, not expecting the reader 
to know its meaning on beforehand. Your "lang attribute" suggestion is 
very nice though :).

Where it <dfn> wouldn't apply:

"She's got a certain... <span lang="fr">je ne sais quoi</span lang="fr">."

That looks ok. Though depending on what the author would want to 
express, <em> might be appropriate as well (in this case, it probably 
is). The lang= attribute is a good idea in any case.

What would actually be nice is, for the HTML spec to elaborate a little 
on tags like this. Ah well.


Ushiko-san! Kimi wa doushite, Ushiko-san!!
Received on Friday, 18 February 2005 21:53:05 UTC

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