Internationalization and naming

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Mon Jan 4 18:40:27 GMT 1999

While writing a blip about XML's support for multiple languages (Unicode,
xml:lang, etc.), it occurred to me that XML still has a ways to go toward
removing the language barriers with regard to element and attribute names. 

HTML imposed an element vocabulary roughly based on English upon document
authors the world over, and not everyone was especially thrilled about it.
XML avoids this issue - you can name your elements and attributes whatever
you like - but it seems likely to crop up again any time people and
organizations go to build document standards using XML.  

Will English vocabularies be used, or will other languages be used?  In the
current XML 1.0 spec, validation requires exact matching of tag names, and
as far as I can tell, there isn't any discussion of validating a
transformed document (via XSL or whatever) that converts documents using
French or Chinese element/attribute names to English (or whatever the
standard uses.)

This seems like something that the next generation of schemas could address
neatly, by providing room for something like a translation table,
identifying elements and their 'standard' equivalents.  This could open up
validation considerably, and possibly make it a lot easier to get buy-in
from user communities that perhaps have no input toward the standards or
their choice of language.

These translations could, of course, take place elsewhere in the process
(editing tools, XSL, etc.), but it seems like addressing it where it
matters - the validation process - is a cleaner solution, at least to me.
(A clearer model for transformation and validation might help as well, if
this proposal is too radical.)

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Cookies
Sharing Bandwidth 
Building XML Applications (February)

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