[whatwg] Google Feedback on the HTML5 media a11y specifications

Philip Jägenstedt philipj at opera.com
Mon Jan 24 00:10:45 PST 2011

On Mon, 24 Jan 2011 04:21:17 +0100, Glenn Maynard <glenn at zewt.org> wrote:

> 2011/1/14 Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1 at gmail.com>
>> Required attributes in WebVTT files should be the main language in use
>> and the kind of data found in the WebVTT file - information that is
> It should be possible to specify language per-cue, or better, per block  
> of
> text mid-cue.  Subtitles making use of multiple languages are common,  
> and it
> should be possible to apply proper font selection and word wrapping to  
> all
> languages in use, not just the primary language.
> When both English subtitles and Japanese captions are on screen, it  
> would be
> very bad to choose a Chinese font for the Japanese text, and worse to  
> choose
> a Western font and use it for everything, even if English is the  
> predominant
> language in the file.

Multi-languaged subtitles/captions seem to be extremely uncommon,  
unsurprisingly, since you have to understand all the languages to be able  
to read them.

The case you mention isn't a problem, you just specify Japanese as the  
main language. There are a few other theoretical cases:

  * Multi-language CJK captions. I've never seen this, but outside of  
captioning, it seems like the foreign script is usually transcribed to the  
native script (e.g. writing Japanese names with simplified Chinese  

  * Use of Japanese or Chinese words in a mostly non-CJK subtitles. This  
would make correct glyph selection impossible, but I've never seen it.

  * Voice synthesis of e.g. mixed English/French captions. Given that this  
would only be useful to be people who know both languages, it seem not  
worth complicating the format for.

Do you have any examples of real-world subtitles/captions that would  
benefit from more fine-grained language information?

Philip Jägenstedt
Core Developer
Opera Software

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