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Re: [XMLVersioning] Definition of an XML Language (was: Re: (Partial) review of Versioning XML)

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 09:52:09 -0400
To: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF4CEA85BE.8387884D-ON852572DC.004B82B1-852572DC.004C315B@lotus.com>

John Cowan writes:

> I think the difference is terminological.  XHTML is commonly referred
> to as a language, even though there are various abstract schemas (1.0
> Transitional, 1.0 Strict, 1.1, etc.) that specify particular sets of
> constraints on it. 

Indeed, the issue is terminological, and there are a number of plausible 
definitions of the work "language" that one might defend.  Crucial to the 
point I was making is that the draft finding Part 1 [1] (remember we're 
reviewing part 2 in this email thread) establishes a rather specific 

>From [1]:

[Definition: A Language consists of a set of text, any syntactic 
constraints on the text, a set of information, any semantic constraints on 
the information, and the mapping between texts and information. ]
[Definition: Text is a specific, discrete sequence of characters]. Given 
that there are constraints on a language, any particular text may or may 
not have membership in a language. Indeed, a particular string of 
characters may be a member of many languages, and there may be many 
different strings of characters that are members of a given language.

So, my point was that if part 1 provides this definition of the word 
"language", then it's sensible that part 2 build on it.   I certainly 
agree that there is other sensible terminology that could have been 

So, getting back to your examples:  by these definitions, I think it's 
fair to say that XHTML 1.0 strict is a language.  Transitional is a 
somewhat different language, since it includes "texts" not in strict. 
XHTML is a language either in a less formal sense, or insofar as one might 
consider the union of the texts in all the variants (and their mappings to 
"information",  a concept we're still refining) as collectively comprising 
the XHTML language as a whole.


[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/versioning-20070326.html#terminology
[2] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/versioning-xml-20070326.html

Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
Received on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 13:52:20 UTC

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