W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > xml-uri@w3.org > May 2000

Syntax and semantics

From: Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net>
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 13:30:00 -0500
Message-ID: <392193A8.242955BE@prescod.net>
To: xml-uri@w3.org
"W. E. Perry" wrote:
> ...
> I do not flatter myself that the Director reads my postings, but I have argued
> for many months (e.g. http://xml.org/archives/xml-dev/2000/03/0380.html ) that
> semantics are local to the node where instance markup is processed and that the
> XML family of specifications could (should!) aspire to no more than the
> specification of syntax. 

A few questions:

 * can you define semantics? 

 * In what sense does XML not have semantics? Isn't the interpretation
of less-than symbols and ampersands as an annotated, tree-structured,
information set the "semantic content" of XML? Can any useful language,
or meta-language, or meta-meta-language be entirely devoid of semantics?

 * if semantics are entirely local, then does Microsoft have the right
to interpet the "a" element type in xhtml as meaning "archive" and the
"b" as meaning "Beethoven"? If they write a web browser that archives
any link you click on and play's music for bold, will you defend them on
the basis that semantics are local? I think that behavior is local, but
semantics absolutely must be shared. But behavior and semantics are
separate. You can read the Catcher in the Rye and start a fund for
wayward teens or decide to shoot John Lennon.

> In an Internet topology, the effective definition of a
> process is the form of its execution at a particular occasion on a > 'client-side' ....

You speak of behavior and semantics as if they are interchangable. I
don't feel that they are. 

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself
"I want to give beauty pageants the respectability they deserve."
            - Brooke Ross, Miss Canada International
Received on Tuesday, 16 May 2000 14:30:35 UTC

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