Re: RFC 1766 language tags

From: Chris Lilley (
Date: Mon Jun 23 1997 - 10:37:17 EDT

On Jun 16, 10:38am, Andrew Daviel wrote:

> On Fri, 13 Jun 1997, Jordan Reiter wrote:
> > I personally am fluent in only one language (because I'm an American ;-7),
> > so all of my web pages have been in a single language. I wonder, aside
> > perhaps from character set configuration, what reasons there are for
> > defining the language of a block of text?

Language markup is orthogonal to character sets.

> .. well, it might be useful for automated resource discovery, search
> engines with thesauri, etc. etc. - so that if you were in an "en-gb" block
> pavement == footpath, while in an "en-us" block pavement == roadway,
> or setting up speech synthesis systems, etc.

It is essential for speech synthesis systems, otherwise you get garbage.

It is higly useful, even for you, Jordan - as you say, you only speak one
language, so you don't want a whole load of hits from your favourite search
service turning up in languages you don't speak. You don't get too many now,
(assuming your sole language is English) but you will.

> There's also directionality (left-right vs. right-left {Hebrew, etc.}),
> but I think that's addressed by a separate tag.


> ... I'm not sure whether CSS addresses things that might change between
> languages, such as number representation

not currently

>, hyphenation,

higher-end systems will hyphenate differently based on language. In
particular, for languages that don't have spaces between words

> quotations

yes, the Q tag uses the lang attribute there

And fonts, too, particularly for representing unified characters that
have different glyph representations (Japanese, Simplified and Traditional
Chinese for example).

And spell checking.

Chris Lilley, W3C                          [ ]
Graphics and Fonts Guy            The World Wide Web Consortium              INRIA,  Projet W3C                       2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
+33 (0)4 93 65 79 87       06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France

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