[whatwg] [HTML5] 3.10.9. The |abbr| element

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Thu Nov 2 00:53:40 PST 2006

On Nov 2, 2006, at 3:44 PM, Jonathan Worent wrote:
> --- Christoph Päper <christoph.paeper at crissov.de> wrote:
>> First off I think the requirement for a |title| is too strict,
>> because there are time and space saving abbreviations everyone knows
>> -- i.e. either their expansion or their meaning -- that do not need  
>> an expansion, e.g. "e.g." or "AIDS". Therefore the second sentence
>> should use 'may', not 'should'.

Agreed. (At the least, the specification is currently ambiguous about 
whether title= is required.)

> I disagree. There is never a guarantee that people will know what an 
> abbreviation stands for, I know what AIDS is but not what it stands 
> for.

But that applies not just to abbreviations, but to writing in general. 
All writing assumes a level of knowledge. If a blind biologist 
listening to a scientific journal heard "DNA" expanded as 
"deoxyribonucleic acid" on every page, that would quickly become 
infuriating, even if the UA was smart enough to do it for only the 
first occurrence on each page. (Temporarily turning off such expansions 
would be unreasonable if there were other, unfamiliar, abbreviations 
present; and trying to request expansions from the UA case-by-case 
would be tiresome.)

> ...
>>    <abbr title="that is">i. e.</abbr>
> This would not be correct usage because the abbreviation i.e. does not 
> represent "that is" it means that though. In this case you using is to 
> mark up the definition.

I use <abbr title="that is">i.e.</abbr> not just because that's what it 
means, but because that's how it *should* be expanded if it needs to be 
expanded, for example if it is being read aloud. (Expanding it as "id 
est" would be pretentiously unreasonable.)

Similarly in "Mac <abbr>OS</abbr> <abbr title="10">X</abbr>", I don't 
give "<abbr>OS</abbr>" a title=, because what "OS" stands for is never 
relevant in the context.

Matthew Paul Thomas

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