[whatwg] Web Forms 2.0 Feedback

Brad Fults bfults at gmail.com
Thu Jan 6 09:40:52 PST 2005

On Thu, 6 Jan 2005 16:58:14 +0000 (UTC), Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> In the case of <li>, you could easily imagine making a speech stylesheet
> for it by numbering the items ("One: Bla bla. Two: Bla bla."), so it has
> some semantic value. For <b>, there simply is no speech equivalent -- it's
> clearly presentational.

When I read the arguments for <b> and <i>, I like to think of them as
backwards-compatible synonyms for <strong> and <em>, respectively.
Whether or not to keep <b> and <i> themselves is a choice of backwards
compatibility over better-named semantic elements, IMO. But one must
realize that they are just that--semantic elements (<strong> and <em>,
that is).

I can't give evidence regarding other languages, but there are
certainly instances in English where emphasis and strength of accent
are crucial to the meaning of a phrase or sentence. The way they are
represented, the presentation aspect, is up to the implementer, but
their existence is crucial to proper reading of the language. This can
be easily seen if one ever reads a writing manual such as those
provided by the MLA.

The bold and italic rendering of these two elements are simply
well-known and accepted representations and don't change the fact that
the elements certainly have semantic meaning.

> For <sub>, the ideal aural rendering depends on the context, but humans
> are adept at interpreting things based on context and you could probably
> get away with rendering sub by simply prefixing its contents with the
> syllable "sub", as in "H sub-two O" for "H<sub>2</sub>O". It's not ideal,
> and for a better aural rendering you would use a speech-capable UA that
> supported ChemML, MathML, or another more appropriate standard language
> natively, and pass content to it using the appropriate domain-specific
> language. However, the fact that you can use the element to sensibly
> change the aural rendering suggests to be that it is semantic enough to be
> kept in HTML.

I agree. The <sup> and <sub> elements indicate a definite change in
the structure of the written (and read) language, and so are "semantic
enough" to stay in the markup language.

Brad Fults

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