Luc Pardon lucp at
Fri Jan 6 10:34:43 CET 2017

On 06-01-17 04:39, David Starner wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 12:10 PM Luc Pardon <lucp at
> <mailto:lucp at>> wrote:
>        And to repeat myself: sticking a tag - any tag (i.e. extension or
>     regular subtag) - into the document head does not absolve the author
>     from the requirement to apply fine-grained tagging inside the
>     document.<>
> There's no such requirement in general. 

   In general, no.

   But please see the Wikipedia entry on the WCAG at

   Next, people who think fine-grained tagging serves no purpose may
want to read up on the WCAG 2.0 "success
criterion" 3.1.2. That criterion says:

> The human language of each passage or phrase in the content can be
programmatically determined except for proper names, technical terms,
words of indeterminate language, and words or phrases that have become
part of the vernacular of the immediately surrounding text. (Level AA)

  That criterion must be met for the content to be deemed "accessible".

  The rationale behind that criterion is explained, much better than I
ever could, at:

  Bottom line: in situations where the WCAG is applicable, there _is_ a
requirement for fine-grained tagging of documents that have more than
one single language in them.

> Print documents, or facsimiles
> of print documents have no need or place for fine-grained tagging, 

   True again, but the BCP 47 language tags - which is what we are
dealing with here - were not meant for printed books. They were designed
to allow computer programs to do supposedly meaningful things with text
in machine-readable format.

  It's fine that you come at this from a bibliographic standpoint, and
it is good that you contribute to the debate to make sure your
standpoint is taken into account.

  Other people come from different standpoints, and contribute as well.
That is one of the things that make this list so valuable.

  I am coming at this from an accessibility standpoint, or - if you will
- from the standpoint of a technician who cares about accessibility, and
I am trying to present things from that perspective.

  That means that the documents I am talking about are web pages and
e-books and the like, and my comments should be read with that in mind.

  It would be helpful if they could be discussed in that context as well.

> and a
> vast amount of digital media is produced without the editorial oversight
> that fine-grained tagging would require. A single tag denoting the
> language of the contents is the best that many documents need or will get.

  Yes. It is precisely this indifference of a majority towards the needs
of a minority that is an open invitation to lawmakers to step in on
behalf of the minority. And that in turn is an open invitation for some
lawyers to jump on the occasion and make some easy pocket money.

  Please refer to the "Legal obligations" section of the Wikipedia page
that I cited above. Summarizing, paraphrasing and (maybe) slightly
exaggerating: if you are publishing things on the web that have
different languages in them but no fine-grained tagging, you may get sued.

  And as the paragraph above that section points out, the WCAG 2.0 A and
AA guidelines (which include fine-grained tagging) "were incorporated as
references in clause 9.2 ("Web content requirements") of the European
standard EN 301 549 [...], the first European standard for ICT products
and services". That may provide munition for lawyers to sue for
discrimination in those European countries where accessibility is not
(yet) required by law.

  And because I have been misunderstood before: what I'm actually trying
to say here is that we should not brush the idea of tagging for
accessibility aside just like that and be done with it. That is not a
good idea, for many reasons.


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