Re: A truly multilingual WWW

David Goldsmith (
Tue, 17 Jan 95 18:53:04 EST

At 5:50 PM 1/17/95, Gavin Nicol wrote:
>Yes, and I am very hesitant to suggest using any special purpose
>codes. The problem is that there does need to be some standard (low
>level) way of saying that some text is in Japanese, and some text is
>in Chinese. Now, the real debate is how to represent this, and I think
>the recent idea I proposed is not bad.

This is really the crux of the matter. Why do you think there needs to be a
*low level* way of differentiating Japanese and Chinese text? The WWW seems
to operate quite well now without any way to differentiate German, English,
French, or Italian text (all handled by 8859-1). What problems --
specifically -- would arise in typical WWW applications if such text is not
tagged? How would lack of this information impede you when writing
Unicode-capable servers and clients, and how would it impact end users?

I fully agree that language (and font, and style, and ...) tags are useful
and highly desirable at a high level, and support for this should be added
to HTML (or at whatever level is appropriate). I don't think that language
is any different from these other attributes, nor does it need special
treatment. Doing it at a low level adds complexity and complicates clients
and servers that use Unicode. There has to be a compelling reason to add
this complexity. There has to be a problem that it solves.

Given that work is in progress to add language information at a higher
level (HTML 3) it seems to me that there would have to be an
extraordinarily strong reason to add this information at a low level as

David Goldsmith
Senior Scientist
Taligent, Inc.
10201 N. DeAnza Blvd.
Cupertino, CA 95014-2233