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Hans Aberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 13:42:09 +0100
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"Pedro J. Aphalo" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>> > but before going into interface questions, what are the items related
>> > to language?
>>   Two more:
>> * Some languges, like Spanish, start exclamations and questions with an
>> up-side-down interpunctuation mark. So one could think of this as a
>> language dependent feature; one enters (logically) \Exclamation{Foo}, or
>> \Question{Bar}, and the language package inserts the correct
>> interpunctuation.
>> * In Swedish decimal numbers, the use of "," and "." are reversed relative
>> English, so a number that would appear as "123,456.78" in English, would be
>> "123.456,78" in Swedish. So, this could be considered as a language
>> dependednt feature; one enters (logically) \Number{..}, and the language
>> package selects the correct output format.
>I think these two do not qualify. ;-)
>What is being proposed is too close to automatic translation for my
>taste. (I am a native Spanish speaker ;-) so I should be biased in
>favour of this example!, but anyway...)
>However, I think this message is very useful in the context of this
>discussion because it makes us think why these two cases are
>different: these are examples of things that are so closely tied to
>the language, that they can be put in the same category as words...
>And I guess we all agree that we do not want to type \cat to get
>"gato" in Spanish and "kissa" in Finnish!.

  The reason I put these up, was that it was asked for items to be
collected that are "language dependent"; it was specifically asked for that
these should not narrowly dependent on what might be implemented by TeX or
in the LaTeX3 project.
  Generally, I think there is not a clear boundary between actually
providing automatic language translation, an unsolved problem, far beyond
what one could achieve in the LaTeX3 project, and "language" customizing
say quotes: There will be a scale of colours, rather than a black/white
clear cut situation. Basically, what is needed, is getting hold of some
semantic information, otherwise not resent in the actual typeset output,
which is entered in the typing process. How much, depends on what is
practically feasible.

>In my opinion what we need is:
>a) defaults that change according to language for things like \date.
>b) easy customization of what may depend on design, especially within
>different or the same "flavo(u)r" of a language. For example typing
>quotation marks using commands.

  This is a discussion of implementation, not a collection of "language
dependent" features.

>In the context of LaTeX3 I do not think we should worry too much
>about what is specific to a language, but invariant within the
>language. Such cases could be handled by language packages.  Of
>course the hooks should be built into LaTeX3 so that language
>packages can do the costumization without trouble (and so survive
>across minor releases of LaTeX).

  The problem is to define what a language really is, which is why it is
interesting collecting features that varies with languages, or dialects, or
subcultures, or groups of people crossing such boundaries.

  Hans Aberg