Re: LANG as an attribute

Mon, 31 Jul 95 18:22:18 EDT

[Tom Neff:]

> 2. A browser for Hebrew or Chinese might well attempt, if it knows the
> language is appropriate, to display text right-to-left or
> top-to-bottom in future. Are there presentation issues or risks
> inherent in allowing a character-level switch from, say, Hebrew to
> Spanish and back?

You bet. It's an implementation nightmare. It's not impossible, but
people who have studied this tell me that it's not nearly as simple as
it looks at first glance.

This subject received a great deal of discussion (most of it before I
became involved) in the DSSSL working group. I don't know all the
details, but I do know that no one is expecting bidirectional
capabilities in DSSSL-Lite.

Note that we're talking specifically about embedding a fragment of a
right-to-left language like Hebrew or Arabic in the middle of a
passage written in a left-to-right language like English or Spanish.
This happens fairly often in scholarly publications devoted to Near
Eastern studies and probably to a certain extent in Hebrew and Arabic
works that quote European languages. It has nothing to do with the
ordinary rendering of a single language in either direction and is not
an issue in mixing languages that run in the same direction.


Jon Bosak, Novell Corporate Publishing Services
2180 Fortune Drive, San Jose, CA 95131 Fax: 408 577 5020
A sponsor of the Davenport Group (
The Library is a sphere whose consummate center is any hexagon, and
whose circumference is inaccessible. -- Jorge Luis Borges