[whatwg] sic element

Bjartur Thorlacius svartman95 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 10 14:10:33 PDT 2011

On Sun, Aug 7, 2011 at 5:42 AM, Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela at cs.tut.fi> wrote:
> Bjartur Thorlacius wrote:
> [...]
> Please note that this isn't about favoring HTML over presentational markup
> languages; none of the alternatives mentioned is a markup language at all.
RTF, TeX and text/enriched are. Consider them before choosing HTML.

> HTML has always been a presentational markup language, too, and HTML as
> officially defined (HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0) still has presentational features,
> so the question is whether they should be taken away, not about "redefining"
> them. It is the WHATWG & HTML5 work that is proposing a redefinition. (I say
> "proposing", since from the viewpoint of implementor, author, and user
> communities as well as the W3C, they are proposals, not a standard. In many
> parts of HTML, the proposal has widely been or is being accepted in
> practice, but I see little signs of such things happening with the new
> meanings for <b> and friends.)
>> And perhaps
>> <blockquote> standardized to mean indent.
> I wouldn't object to that, but _that_ would mean a change to the tradition
> of HTML specifications, and although <blockquote> mostly means "indent", it
> fairly often means a block quotation. Moreover, the situations where an HTML
> author needs to say "this text is indented in the printed original" without
> presenting any fixed interpretation of the intended meaning of indentation
> appear to be rather rare, as compared with situations where one needs to say
> e.g. "this text appears in italics in the printed original".
>> If you simply retype print without any interpretation of the
>> typography used, a valid speech rendering would e.g. cue bold text
>> with "bold" and "unbold" marks to convey the meaning: this text was
>> bold.
> It could, and that would actually reflect the authors intentions: he wishes
> to convey the idea of bolding, leaving it to the reader to infer or guess
> the meaning of bolding. (At the extreme, you might have a page that
> discusses a printed document in general and the use of bolding in it in
> particular, and then it is surely relevant to indicate the bolding - as
> "pure bolding".) In practice, speech rendering doesn't behave that way, but
> even if it did, it would constitute an argument in favor of the typographic
> markup, not against it.
The fact that speech renderings preserve neither bolding nor
italicization implies that implementors have not interpreted <b> and
<i> to mean bold and italics, respectively, but as hints as to
appropriate visual renderings - that happen to map quite reliably to
aural renderings[1]. In other words: <b> and <i> are there for WYSIWYG
composers and editors. If formatting is semantically critical, use one
of OpenDocument, TeX, RTF or text/enriched.

> This isn't about suggesting, this is about reproducing aspects of printed
> material that may be essential. It is comparable to making a distinction
> between lowercase and uppercase, which may be purely presentational or may
> carry essential information. The case distinction can be made by the simple
> choice of letters at the character level, or it may be delegated to CSS if
> it is regarded as purely presentational. For bolding etc., the
> character-level alternative does not exist or it is highly impractical (and
> e.g. mathematical italics letters are, in addition to being present in a few
> fonts only, intended for mathematical use rather than common use of
> italics). So all I'm asking is to preserve the existing features of HTML or,
> more exactly, preserve them without declaring them as obsolete.
HTML was not designed for this, but could arguably be stretched to
fulfill the use case, considering existing visual implementations. A
method to declare that the typographical elements do not convey the
same semantics as their respective fonts, but the fact that the
enclosed text was typeset using the respective font. The preferred
solution would be a new HTML-compatible markup language (say, a
structural and presentational subset mandating a new doctype), or one
of the existing typeset file formats. [font as in style, not typeface]

1: From Wiktionary's definition of empasis: Prominence given to a
syllable or words, by raising the voice or printing in italic or
underlined type.

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