Re: OT (Kind of): Determining whether Locales are left-to-right or

From: John Cowan (
Date: Thu Dec 07 2000 - 12:17:05 EST

This message is best viewed with a monowidth font. wrote:

> For example, I might look at a page that contains an very large result set
> from a database query, presented as a table. The results would comprise
> 90% of the text, let's say, of the document. If the results are all in
> Hebrew, should I re-layout the page, if the headings and the footer and
> other information is in English?
> I think the answer is "no"--in other words, the opposite of what you're
> saying.

So far so clear. The page as a whole is LTR with RTL inclusions,
namely the database content, like this (as usual, lowercase is
LTR text, UPPERCASE is RTL text):

top dogs by country

country firstname lastname
------- --------- --------
u.s. bill clinton
u.k. tony blair

> If the *user* locale is en_US, then the page should be laid out
> for that user's preferences, even if the data itself (in individual
> fields) is RTL.

But now your message seems to go off the rails. If the application is
*not* localizable in Hebrew (it insists on presenting header, footer,
etc. in English), but the browser's locale setting is "il-he", you want
the page to be presented RTL with the header and footer as embedded
LTR, like this?

               top dogs by country

lastname firstname country
-------- --------- -------
clinton bill u.s.
blair tony u.k.

> > If a user requests a page that contains data that could, potentially, be in
> > multiple languages. What criteria does one use to determine directionality
> > of the page? The directionality of the *text* is implied by each data
> > element itself. But what about the page?

My view is that the base direction of the page is the direction of the fixed
elements on the page. If these fixed elements are in English, the base
direction is always LTR. If the fixed elements are localizable based on
the browser settings, then whatever language/script they are localized
into determines the base direction.

In short, Example 1 good, Example 2 bad, no matter what the browser setting is.
Of course, if the application can cope with an "il-he" browser setting and
render the fixed elements into Hebrew, then the base direction should be

There is / one art                   || John Cowan <>
no more / no less                    ||
to do / all things                   ||
with art- / lessness                 \\ -- Piet Hein

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