Language attributes- what are they?

Tex Texin tex at
Sat Jan 1 04:33:11 CET 2005


I agree that a user's locale identifier specifies sort order for how
information is presented to a user.

However, I also believe that a language tag implies the sort order used within
the content it represents.
The argument for this is essentially the same as you presented for language tag
specifying ordering of date elements.

A language tag labeling a document or more generally text content should imply
the language and all language attributes that the AUTHOR uses to create the

A locale identifier (as we are using it at the moment) should represent the
international preferences of the USER (ie recepient) and determines how the
application's interface presents information to the user.

There is a gray area in between when the application assembles or constructs
content to present to the user.

So, a dynamically generated list of results might be ordered by the locale. A
list generated personally by someone for publication would follow that author's
language. Analogously for date element ordering.

I would like to avoid if possible discussion of locales, and focus on what the
language identifier entails.
I think that implies not discussing user interface, and requires some
presumption of pre-built content and the choice of language tag to be used to
label that content.

Wouldn't it be surprising for a non-swedish sort order to be used with content
that was labeled as Swedish?
(Regardless of who the content is given to...)


John Cowan wrote:
> Tex Texin scripsit:
> > I can take your mail two ways.
> > a) sorted lists should be dynamically changed to the user's preference.
> Yes, when practicable.
> > b) Documents written in a language are presumably targeted at readers of that
> > language, and therefore should be sorted for the intended audience (as opposed
> > to the actual preference of that individual). And this is true even if the list
> > contents are in another language.
> The rest of your email reads to me as if you thought I was arguing *for* using
> language-tagging for sorting, but I was actually arguing against that position.
> Sort order should be inferred from the locale specifier (which is per-user)
> rather than the language tag (which is per-document, or per-section of document).
> --
> John Cowan      jcowan at
>         "Not to know The Smiths is not to know K.X.U."  --K.X.U.

Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898   mailto:Tex at
Xen Master                
Making e-Business Work Around the World

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