Semantics (was Re: Inheritance in XML [^*])

Paul Prescod papresco at
Fri Apr 24 09:13:44 BST 1998

Rick Jelliffe wrote:
> I think people get confused between the "semantics" of the markup language
> and the "semantics" of the element [type]s and attributes being marked-up.

That's right. One paper I read referred to "semantics" and
"meta-semantics." That helps to clarify things somewhat, but it strikes me
as the same kind of distinction as "language" and "meta-language." It is
useful at first, but then when you try to come up with a precise
definition you realize that there is none. HTML is a meta-language and XML
is a language and vice versa. Similarly, as far as I can tell, what we
today call a semantic could be a meta-semantic tomorrow, if it gets
adopted in XML (e.g. the namespaces proposal).

So perhaps the best thing is to talk about the semantics of the markup (as
defined in the markup language) and the semantics of the marked up
document (as defined in the documentation for the document type).
 Paul Prescod  -

"Perpetually obsolescing and thus losing all data and programs every 10
years (the current pattern) is no way to run an information economy or
a civilization." - Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as:
To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
(un)subscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list