[whatwg] Web Forms 2.0 Feedback

Matthew Raymond mattraymond at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 7 06:00:21 PST 2005

Matthew Thomas wrote:
> On 7 Jan, 2005, at 5:58 AM, Ian Hickson wrote:
>>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".
>>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 
> Except that "sub" is merely (an abbreviation of) a description of the 
> typographical presentation! You might just as well say that H<font 
> color="green">2</font>O is semantic because it could be pronounced as 
> "H green-two O".

    The difference is that "green" is meaningless, where as <sub> is 
vital to properly communicate vital information, such as in the case of 
chemical formulas. For instance, an aural browser could intelligently 
recognize mathematical and chemical formulas and say them in a way that 
better communicates their meaning. In this situation "H two O" could 
potentially be pronounced "dihydrogen monoxide" or "water". Something 
like "green" has no such use, and <b> and <i> can at best be said to 
change the tone of pronunciation rather than what is actually said by 
the aural browser.

>>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.
> FWIW, in the case of ChemML that wouldn't help -- as far as I know 
> (having just consulted the household science teacher), there is no 
> standard way of pronouncing chemical formulas so as to distinguish 
> subscripts even from normal numbers. So using aural rendering to decide 
> whether an element is semantic wouldn't work in that case.

    Semantics don't disappear simply because there's no standardized 
pronunciation. What it seems like you're saying is that there is, in 
fact, an opportunity to establish such a standard using aural browsers.

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