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Re: [xml-dev] Wikipedia on XML

On Aug 7, 2009, at 6:17 PM, Michael Kay wrote:

>>> A language for describing the syntax of another language?
>> Despite the L in XML, syntax alone does not constitute a language.
> Agreed.

I agree too, but saying that syntax alone does not constitute a  
language is not an explicit denial that XML is a language.  If XML is  
not a language, would someone please explain why (or in what sense)?   
Or if XML is a language but it's just a bad idea to describe it that  
way in Wikipedia, could someone explain why THAT is?  I believe we've  
agreed that XML is a subset of SGML.  Is SGML not a language either?

>> It's only a language if there are words. XML doesn't define
>> words.

This is a formal language (syntax, specification, system, frog,  
whatever) we're talking about.  The general "language" entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language 
) in Wikipedia says "A language is a system for encoding and decoding  
information."  That seems like a reasonable place to start.  That same  
entry references an entry on "markup language" (which in turn  
describes XML as a "meta markup language").  The overall description  
of "markup language" (and the one of XML there) doesn't seem all that  
unreasonable either.  If you want to start, in the XML entry, adopting  
highly restrictive definitions of concepts like "language" and other  
relevant terms so that, for example, something plainly called  
Extensible Markup *Language* isn't one according to these (unstated)  
definitions, while it plainly is according to stated Wikipedia  
definitions, I'm afraid you are apt to confuse an awful lot of people  
for whom you are supposed to be writing.

> I think it does define words: words like "<", "</", "<!--", and "<! 
> CDATA[",
> and sentential forms like "<"...">", "<!--"..."-->", and so on.

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