Why XML data typing is hard

Toby Speight tms at ansa.co.uk
Mon Nov 30 18:28:07 GMT 1998

Henry> Henry S. Thompson <URL:mailto:ht at cogsci.ed.ac.uk>

0> In article <f5b3e71oycq.fsf at cogsci.ed.ac.uk>, Henry wrote:

Henry> In other words, if there are (natural) language/culture dependent
Henry> aspects to our documents, then if we are good citizens we should
Henry> use the xml:lang attribute to signal this.  This is NOT the same
Henry> as (see some earlier messages) expecting the PROCESSOR's locale
Henry> to sort things out: it's more like including the AUTHOR's locale
Henry> in the document.
Henry> So just as I might write
Henry> <balance xml:lang='fr'>quatre cinquante</balance>
Henry> if we add sensitivity to language to our lexical typing, I
Henry> might write
Henry> <balance xml:lang='fr'>4,50</balance>
Henry> OR
Henry> <balance xml:lang='ar'>&#x0664;&#x066B;&#x0665;&#0660;</balance>
Henry> Is the latter an indication of a plausable way forward,
Henry> i.e. lexical types which are parameterised by (natural)
Henry> language?

It looks attractive at first sight, but think of the burden you're
placing on processors - instead of authors having to transform from
their *own* locale to a canonical representation, readers have to
transform from the *document's* (arbitrary) locale.  So readers now
need to know (enough about) *all* the locales from which they might
receive data.

Note that I'm considering the issues from the point of view of an
interchange format.  I've no objection to the use of the above in an
internal, single-language environment, as long as the elements are
transformed to a canonical form when passed to unsuspecting readers.


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