[whatwg] contenteditable, <em> and <strong>

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Tue Jan 9 16:20:50 PST 2007

Leons Petrazickis inscribed:

> A more general question is whether bold or italic are presentational.
> Are they any more presentational than capitalization?. Methinks the
> assumption that capitalization is semantic while bold and italic are
> presentational is a historical accident, not reality.

I agree entirely, although drawing a different conclusion, namely that
capitalization is indeed presentational. Note that capitalization also
has markup that helps clarify it: <abbr>, <acronym> (in HTML4 and
XHTML1), <strong>, <hN> for headings, <cite>, and microformats (for
proper names). The only thing which doesn't currently have any means of
clarification is the start and end of sentences.

> Imagine a world where ASCII only had lowercase characters. 

I enjoyed this imaginative exercise. :)

> Instead of doing that, people just swapped <proper> in place of
> <capitalize>. The adherents raged. "What fools these people be. The
> first word of a sentence is not a proper noun. We need to proselytize
> more!" 

I don't however your fable persuasive, because it presents the
acceptance of markup as a dialectic between elite proselytization and
authorial pragmatism, whereas I would allot greater explanatory power to
the conservatism of tools and a certain disinterest on the part of tool
developers in the meaning of text content.

> Capitalize, <b> bold, and <i> italicize are all intrinsic properties
> of prose

Which is of course why modern editions of Latin texts are printed in all
capitals with no punctuation, why modern editions of eighteenth century
English texts use italic for quotations, and why audiobooks announce
"italic" whenever they come across a word in another language. Oh

I think there's some creative, but not productive, reinterpretation of
the word "intrinsic" going on here.

> But using them mid-paragraph is not abuse. Their use should be neither
> deprecated nor discouraged.

So why should <font>, <center>, and <small> be discouraged then?

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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