gender voice variants

Michael Everson everson at
Fri Dec 21 16:15:00 CET 2012

On 21 Dec 2012, at 14:37, Alain LaBonté <albalabon at> wrote:

> Tagging is always a good thing. However gender has nothing to do with language. Not a good idea. to mix different properties within the same category.

Sometimes it does. Compare « Je suis si beau ! » and « Je suis si belle ! » 

Right now you can set your computer to display French menus. If you have text-to-speech on your computer it may read text out in French. If you have more than one voice, it may read text out with a male voice or a female one. Or your Facebook page may address you knowing whether you are a man or a woman, if such things have been written into the HTML. Or (getting away from sex) your computer may vousvoyer or tutoyer you depending on your preference.

Some but not all of these features exist today. Obviously data has to indicate what set of things should be presented to the user and in what way… the question is, should sex or level of formality be found via mechanisms like: 

1) <lang="en-spkrmale-nformal">this</lang> or

2) <lang="en" voice="male" manners="informal">this</lang> or

3) <lang="en"><voice="male"><manners="informal">this</manners></voice></lang> or

In BCP 47 we could approve 1) above… but is it the right way to handle this? Some think so. Some think not. I am undecided. 

Michael Everson *

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