[whatwg] Re: About XHTML 2.0

J. Graham jg307 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Thu Jun 9 01:47:41 PDT 2005

I hate to disrupt all the fun but if the concern is the ability to 
markup Uylsses in a semantic way, we have much bigger problems than <hr />. 
The total lack of an element for expressing direct speech, say [1]. 
Worse, Uylsses considers speech to be block level but speech blocks 
(identified by a leading em-dash) can be contaminated with identifcation of the speaker:
"Has the wrong sow by the lug. He is my father. I am his son.
-That mole is the last to go, Stephen said, laughing."

There's also no way to represent a script-like structure in HTML. An 
aural rendering of a script would probably leave out the names of the 
characters but use distinct vocal styles so the reader could follow who 
was speaking. There would also need to be some sort of markup to 
distinguish a stage direction so fragments like:

"BLOOM: (With sinews semiflexed) Magnificence
BELLO: Down! (He taps her on the shoulder with his fan) Incline feet 
forward! Slide left foot one pace back. You will fall. You are falling. On 
the hands down!"

Can be rendered correctly. So to do it properly, we need markup to specify 
the age, sex and ethnicity of the speaker. And their emotional state? 
Obviously we need an attribute for each speech block to link it to the 

No, I'm not being serious. But the point is that HTML does such an 
astonishingly poor job of marking up fiction (and a wide variety of other 
document types too, no doubt) that arguing over whether seperators should 
be empty elements or not is just semantic navel-gazing. Where are all the 
people using AJAX (Worst. Name. Ever.) but going "oh I could do all this 
cool stuff if only I had  feature X"? Are they all still at the "oh I 
could do all this cool stuff if only IE supported otherwise 
well-implemented feature Y" stage?

[1] Note "Content inside a q element must be quoted from another source", 
which direct speech is not. Whilst I'm here, I'll point out that "The q 
element represents a part of a paragraph quoted from another source." 
isn't very clear - I assume that "part of a paragraph" means a paragraph 
in the html document, not in the source - but it could be interpreted the 
other way around so that quoting poetry, for example, is forbidden

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