Re: Why <LANG>, directional considerations

Amanda Walker (
Tue, 1 Aug 95 11:58:11 EDT

> 2. Appropriate codepages and fonts can chosen using the Unicode "page"
> (or sub-"page").

No, they cannot. Selection of an appropriate font is a function
of both the Unicode code range and the language being represented.
Even *I* can reliably distinguish between Japanese and Chinese
versions of many ideographic characters, and I'm by no means fluent
in either written language.

> <LANG> and the character level becomes useful when there is
> an (alledged) ambiguity in glyphs.

The question is, in general, not a matter of ambiguity, but of
appropriateness. I wouldn't want all my WWW pages coming up in
Fraktur, even though there would be no ambiguity concerning the
individual glyphs :). Similarly, Chinese text should be represented
in a Chinese font if it's available, although putting it in a Japanese
font is better than nothing (and vice versa).

Granted, there are many levels of support possible in any given
WWW client. Ours goes so far as to make font choices based on the
element type as well as the encoding--for example, if you have
several megabytes of fonts installed, you can view and
print Japanese WWW pages with most text in Ryumin Light, headings
in Chu Gothic BBB Medium, and preformatted text in Chu Gothic BBB Mono.
[I particularly recommend this combination, by the way :).]

Unicode is an encoding--the idea of 'a Unicode font' is something of a
misnomer, the existence of Lucida Sans Unicode notwithstanding. It is
entirely reasonable to expect HTML viewers/formatters to select fonts
based on the languages involved and user preferences, even when everything
is in the same encoding. A <LANG> tag allows the viewer to make this
and other style-related decisions (hyphenation, sorting order, etc.)
without user intervention. This is essential for the seamless handling
of multilingual content.

Amanda Walker
InterCon Systems Corporation