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   Re: Why XML data typing is hard

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  • From: ht@cogsci.ed.ac.uk (Henry S. Thompson)
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: 30 Nov 1998 17:59:49 +0000

<david@megginson.com> writes:

> [bits elided]
> With XML, though, it is the representation itself that I'm exchanging,
> not the abstract data (though perhaps in the future people might want
> to pass around compiled DOM trees -- who knows?).  That means that if
> I put
>   <balance>4.50</balance>
> and send the document to a French user, the French user will still see 
> the strange, foreign
>   <balance>4.50</balance>

Basically I agree that we're not talking datatypes, we're talking
lexical types (see Eliot's reply as well), but there is one
observation I'd like to add here.

Is this situation actually any different from the case where I write

<balance>four fifty</balance>


In other words, if there are (natural) language/culture dependent
aspects to our documents, then if we are good citizens we should use
the xml:lang attribute to signal this.  This is NOT the same as (see
some earlier messages) expecting the PROCESSOR's locale to sort things 
out:  it's more like including the AUTHOR's locale in the document.

So just as I might write

<balance xml:lang='fr'>quatre cinquante</balance>

if we add sensitivity to language to our lexical typing, I might write

<balance xml:lang='fr'>4,50</balance>


<balance xml:lang='ar'>&#x0664;&#x066B;&#x0665;&#0660;</balance>

Is the latter an indication of a plausable way forward, i.e. lexical
types which are parameterised by (natural) language?

  Henry S. Thompson, HCRC Language Technology Group, University of Edinburgh
     2 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh EH8 9LW, SCOTLAND -- (44) 131 650-4440
	    Fax: (44) 131 650-4587, e-mail: ht@cogsci.ed.ac.uk
		     URL: http://www.ltg.ed.ac.uk/~ht/

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