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Subject: FW: [dita] [dita-translation] TC/DITA/Translation Subcommittee Proposals

Hi all,

I thought I was replying to the SC. Essentially I'm building on what Bruce said, extending it to a best practice. I'd appreciate input on this from the group, particularly from the W3C members.

Best Regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: Gershon L Joseph [mailto:gershon@tech-tav.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 8:16 PM
To: 'Esrig, Bruce (Bruce)'; dita@lists.oasis-open.org
Cc: 'Eliot Kimber'
Subject: RE: [dita] [dita-translation] TC/DITA/Translation Subcommittee Proposals

I think the standards groups need to strongly recommend that implementers use a fully-compliant Unicode algorithm that correctly implements the script and directionality for each language used in the document. The fact that most authoring and translation tools today don't implement the Unicode algorithm correctly (or fully) is a serious issue, but it should not prevent us from recommending best practices and specs based on full implementation of the Unicode standard. I believe vendors will get there.

The W3C specs strongly recommend using markup to differentiate between different languages (script and direction), and not to use the embedded Unicode directionality characters (markers). While most Windows-based editors allow a phrase to include any language without enforcing markup, I think we should state in our documentation, as a best practice, that authoring tools should add such markup automatically. What do others feel about this suggestion?

Basically, what I'm suggesting is that if a user has an Arabic document (as set on the document element) and inserts an English phrase into a paragraph, while Unicode does not require the English phrase to be identified by surrounding it with an element, I think it should be a best practice to do so. To make life easier for authors and editors, the tools could add this markup for the author. Obviously authors using less sophisticated tools would have to add the markup manually in order to comply with the best practice.

Best Regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: Esrig, Bruce (Bruce) [mailto:esrig@lucent.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 6:10 PM
To: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
Cc: 'Eliot Kimber'
Subject: RE: [dita] [dita-translation] TC/DITA/Translation Subcommittee Proposals

Perhaps we are already doing this, but we should carefully distinguish the two levels: byte stream and markup.

Here's a possible way to approach it.

The innermost element in the DITA markup should be a nestable phrase-like element that has an attribute that signifies the direction in which the text should be presented. Surrounding elements can take the same attribute. The applicable value of the direction (according to the markup) for a particular stream of characters is the value of the attribute for the innermost containing element that has a value specified for that attribute.

Unicode characters within the markup could override the attribute setting according to the markup, using the full set of Unicode conventions. However, the markup should not need an override value for an attribute because the markup can use inner nesting whenever a local override is required. The value of the attribute in the DITA markup should be specified to have this behavior. The Unicode values may not be good names for the attribute values, since the override behavior is different.

Because the DITA markup may be more concerned with presentation than with byte order in the source, we should keep in mind the possibility of covering the alternate directions that are sometimes used in Asian languages. (XSL-FO allows multiple directions, but the main example is: text direction top to bottom, line propagation direction right to left.)

Best wishes,


-----Original Message-----
From: Eliot Kimber [mailto:ekimber@innodata-isogen.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:21 AM
To: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: Re: [dita] [dita-translation] TC/DITA/Translation Subcommittee Proposals

Gershon L Joseph wrote:

> 1. The Unicode standard defines a default direction for each language. 
> For example, for English this default direction is LTR and for Hebrew it's RTL.

To expand on Gershon's explanation a little bit:

The directionality is actually defined for each character (not the language, as Unicode doesn't deal directly with languages but rather with scripts (that is, when Unicode talks about "Arabic" they mean the script named Arabic, not the language Arabic, which happens to use the Arabic script). For most languages there is a direct mapping to a script (but not always, although those cases usually fall outside the set of languages used for technical publications). Thus, while we usually informally talk about "languages" when dealing with things at the character level we usually really mean "scripts".

With respect to controlling (or not controlling) directionality, in addition to the cases where you have to adjust the default directionality is the case where you have characters that are naturally paired and that, by default, are rendered to reflect the current directionality, i.e., parens "(" and square brackets "[".

For example, given this source data:

<p>(arabic characters)</p>

The rendered result would be:

(sretcarahc cibara)


)sretcarahc cibara(

However, when the parens contain or are adjacent to left-to-right characters then things can get confused (and confusing). I've seen this most when you have numbers or latin-script words embeded in right-to-left text within parens, i.e.:

<p>arabic characters (XSL-FO) arabic characters</p>

In this case the directionality of the enclosing Arabic characters causes the parens to be "flipped", giving results like this:

sretcarahc cibara )XSL-FO( sretcarahc cibara


sretcarahc cibara (XSL-FO( sretcarahc cibara

This can be addressed by using LRO or RLO characters or by using LRE or RLE (left-to-right embedding and right-to-left embedding) characters in the input data stream.

However, this is complicated by the fact that many tools do not implement the Unicode bi-di rules correctly. In particular we found that tools that rely on the Windows libraries for doing right-to-left rendering give different results from tools (mostly FO implementations) that implement the algorithm themselves (and presumably better). 
However, the algorithm is difficult enough to understand that its hard to prove that a given implementation is or isn't correct. So you are often faced with just hacking the source data until you get the result you want.

In my work with rendering Hebrew and Arabic technical documents where the translators are creating the non-English text *and* they can't modify the markupm their only option is to add the actual Unicode characters to the data stream (which they can always do).


W. Eliot Kimber
Professional Services
Innodata Isogen
9390 Research Blvd, #410
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 372-8841


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