#93 writing direction of text

closed
None
5
2007-02-16
2007-02-10
No

As I recently discovered, somewhere along the road to P5, we lost the ability to indicate the writing direction of a document. This used to be part of the WSD in P4 and we still can have the (default) direction on individual characters via their Unicode properties in P5, but there seems to be no way to indicate this with markup on other levels. One could conceive this as a job for the @rend but than we are out in the open wilderness that reigns there.

Now what to do? I am inclined to propose an attribute that could either be part of model.global by default or be selected independently (or maybe part of the gaiji module?, but in reality, this is quite a separate question).

HTML 4.01, btw does define this as follows:

dir (ltr|rtl) #IMPLIED -- default directionality --

(see http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/dirlang.html\)

On the other hand, we should also account for indicating how the sequence of lines proceed on the page, which is separate from the text direction indicated by @dir, but could use the same set of possible attribute values,
e.g.
ltr = left to right
rtl = right to left
ttb = top to bottom
btt = bottom to top (dont know of a sample, but just for completeness)

Maybe one could combine these values, so that no additional attribute is needed beside @dir,
e.g.
<p dir="ltr.ttb">This paragraph is written from left to right and the lines proceed from top to bottom, as is normal for modern western writing</p>.

One last problem is the Boustrophedon. From the Unicode glossary (http://unicode.org/glossary/):
<q>
Boustrophedon.A pattern of writing seen in some ancient manuscripts and inscriptions, where alternate lines of text are laid out in opposite directions, and where right-to-left lines generally use glyphs mirrored from their left-to-right forms. Literally, “as the ox turns,” referring to the plowing of a field.
</q>
How do we handle this?

---
Needless to say that I would rather see this in P5, since it would be a bit embarassing to come out of the woods with so little of the homework done.

Christian

Discussion

  • Lou Burnard

    Lou Burnard - 2007-02-11
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  • Lou Burnard

    Lou Burnard - 2007-02-11

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    It may be a wilderness, but @rend really is the right place to specify this isnt it?

    The directionality that was available in the old WSD related to the directionality of the *writing system* not the specific way it was written in the text, I think. We have that information now as a Unicode property, so if we want to record exceptions at the individual occurrence level, there is nowhere else but @rend to do it.

     
  • BODARD Gabriel

    BODARD Gabriel - 2007-02-16

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    In EpiDoc we cope with boustrophedon (and texts that are more complex than that, perhaps with lines mostly in one direction but occasionally in another) by using the @rend attribute on the <lb/> at the beginning of that line. We use <lb/> at the start of the text, as well as the beginning of lines 2 following.

    <lb rend="right-to-left"/>...

    ("Left-to-right" is the default, but can be expressed if necessary in a mixed text.)

     
  • Christian Wittern

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    Well, the boustrophedon was more an afterthought, but it is really a different type of problem. What I have in mind is a text that is completely written in vertical lines, right to left -- as is usual practice in premodern Chinese and Japanese. I do not want to record this fact on every <p> in the whole text, I'd rather say it, for example on <text> and have it propagate down to the last little note two lines before the end, in the same way, for example, the @xml:lang works. Do we allow this kind to proliferation with @rend as well?
    Christian

     
  • Lou Burnard

    Lou Burnard - 2007-02-16

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    "inheritance" might be a better word than proliferation! However, I suggest the thing you want here may be the <rendition> element in the header which "is used to hold a description of the default rendition to be associated with the specified element"

    If you have suggestions for text which could go into the Guidelines to discuss further how to deal with this problem, please make them! But I don't think we need a new element, so I am closing this ticket for now.

     
  • Lou Burnard

    Lou Burnard - 2007-02-16
    • status: open --> closed
     

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