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   Re: Foreign Names

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  • From: Rick JELLIFFE <ricko@geotempo.com>
  • To: ",XML-DEV (E-mail)" <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Sat, 15 Apr 2000 21:12:06 +0800

Tim Bray wrote:
> At 06:13 PM 4/14/00 -0700, Don Park wrote:
> >Q1: When is it appropriate to use non-English tag names?
> >Q2: When is it not?
> For the purposes of this discussion, I take it we regard <P> and <A> as
> "English" tag names? :)    

And I would add a third question:

Q3: When is it appropriate to create technology which makes it easier
the rich to penetrate poor countries but makes it more difficult for the
poor to take advantage of that technology.

I think Q3 is the most fundamental question, because one's answer to it
will to a large extent reveal what "appropriate" means. At the moment
in Cuba is a gathering of under-developed countries who say that the
West (largely the US) is locking them out of technological advantages.
(Not to endorse Cuba, but just to say that it is hardly an issue that
I am whipping up out of no-where.)

And we are currently seeing the patent mechanism being used to lock out
the poor and the inarticulate even further. Note Richard Stallman's 
recent comments on how difficult it is becoming to make free software
in such an environment.

I am not allowed to bring more than two copies of my book into Taiwan
as personal luggage, because the US Government enforces a 301
on copyright against Taiwan: I wrote it yet I am not supposed to bring
it in!  The US (and the West) already is stacking the decks against the
rest of the
world, and the rest of the world will get more disaffected by it. 

Since the legal/political/economic decks are already stacked so heavily, 
adding or perpetuating more technological prejudice is, to my mind,
for future economic stability. Every extra burdon makes things worse; 
makes it easier for demagogues to start trade wars. 

Already in this region we have people selling domain names using East
characters, even though such names are not inter-operable with the rest
of the Internet.  There is a demand for native-language identifiers
cannot be stopped.

So to qestions 1) and 2) I would say "who is asking?"  If it is a schema
writer, I would give one answer (the same answer I have been giving
1994: the developer of a DTD has a reasonable expectation of the
usage and they should try to choose the best names based on their
expectation of the writers and consumers of the documents). On the other
if it is someone who might want to build parsers or to promote
reduced-XML standards
who is asking, I would say "who are we to tell someone what language
should use?" and "please don't set us back 20 years"

Surely the purpose of software is to make people's lives easier, not
Try this intolerence test: if you see an XML document in a language or
script you don't understand, does it irritate you?  We should get used
it.  Native language markup is one of the most popular features in XML
in my region.  To remove it just means that people here will become
of foreign schemas and not creators of their own. Furthermore, it will
life very difficult for people who want to use XML for data transfer,
element names often are related to the database column and table names:
are often not in English.

What if the 80% foregone in an 80/20 tradeoff contains the things needed
by the poor, 
the foreign,the underdeveloped?   Open, free, inclusive technologies
the chance to reduce the importance of institutional and political
barriers to
development. When we create a technological standard we are setting up
technological infrastructure for the next decade: it becomes our
whether we are making a world where technological infrastructure is
useable or

Everytime I comment on this I get some nasty email complaining about
Anyone whose morality doesn't even advance as far as not harming their
doesn't have credibility. But I don't push this line because of morality
fairness or justice.  It is basic self-interest for us Westerners to
reduce the
chances of trade wars; exclusonary technology merely gives fodder to
The combination of technological barriers with legal barriers are not
which can only make non-Westerners think that the West will use whatever
capabilities it has to get control and keep control of markets.

Rick Jelliffe

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