[whatwg] Editorial: Colloquial contractions

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Sep 16 02:44:46 PDT 2009

On Wed, 16 Sep 2009, Øistein E. Andersen wrote:
> On 15 Sep 2009, at 02:37, Ian Hickson wrote:
> > On Tue, 8 Sep 2009, Øistein E. Andersen wrote:
> > > 
> > > The spec currently contains a few occurrences of colloquial 
> > > contractions like "can't", "won't" and "there's", which should be 
> > > changed to "cannot", "will not", "there is" etc. for consistency.
> > 
> > I haven't changed this, because it doesn't seem especially important, 
> > frankly. If there are specific cases where you think the current text 
> > reads poorly due to the use of contractions, please let me know.
> 'Tis not that specific instances are particularly horrific; the problem 
> is that unmotivated alternation 'tween the two, just like any other 
> typographical error or inconsistency, gives the impression of 
> carelessness, which is always discomforting in a technical 
> specification, whate'er the cause might be.
> I still think 'twould be worth fixing this, though I must admit 'tis 
> more pervasive than I first thought.  To make it less open-ended, please 
> find below a list of changes that would correct most instances 
> (capitalised forms not listed separately):
> s/doesn't/does not/
> s/isn't/is not/ except: isn't his
> s/don't/do not/ except: "don't know,", "don't."
> s/it's/it is/ except: it's hot (twice), it's so pedantic, it's unarguably,
> it's about
> s/can't/cannot/
> s/I'm looking/I am looking/
> s/there's/there is/ except: there's a microphone (twice)
> s/won't/will not/ except: won't be that
> s/that's/that is/ except: that's right
> s/wasn't/was not/
> s/aren't/are not/
> s/wouldn't/would not/
> s/we're/we are/ except: team we're, >we're (twice)
> s/they're/they are/ except: they're really
> s/here's/here is/ (except: there's a microphone)
> s/didn't/did not/ except: didn't have, didn't know, didn't <
> s/we'll/we shall/
> s/we'd/we would/
> s/I've/I have/ except: I've liked, I've got, I've only
> s/hasn't/has not/ except: hasn't changed
> s/you're doing/you are doing/
> s/couldn't/could not/ except: couldn't admit
> s/we've/we have/
> s/shouldn't/should not/ except: shouldn't say
> s/let's simulate/let us simulate/
> s/it'll/it will/
> s/haven't/have not/
> s/you'd/you would/
> s/it'd/it would/
> s/I'd probably/I would probably/
> s/I'd realised/I had realised/
> s/hadn't/had not/
> s/they've/they have/
> s/they'll/they will/
> s/there'd/there would/
> s/he's covered/he is covered/

That's far too many things for me to change safely just to make the spec 
sound more formal. I'm as likely to introduce errors in doing this change 
as I am to fix everything I set out to fix.

Also, many of the contractions above are in explicitly non-normative text 
(like examples), and I definitely think it's fine to have them there.

Again, if there are specific cases (e.g. "section 5.4.76's second 
paragraph says 'Browsers shouldn't do that', which is an ambiguous use of 
RFC2119 terminology, please use 'should not'"), then let me know, but I'm 
not ready to make such a wide series of changes as you describe above.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

More information about the whatwg mailing list