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Subject: Re: [docbook] On family/given/first/last names

>> I guess the basis of my argument is that the only solution that would
>> ensure that the i18n requirements were effectively dealt with  
>> would be
>> to ask the person how _they_ want their name displayed and searched
>> for.  This would mean that the journals wouldn't get their  
>> consistency,
>> but as an author or reader, it would seem more important to me that a
>> particular person was consistent _across_ different publications,
>> rather than the list of authors be consistent _within_ a single
>> publication.
> Another thing: one purpose of writing names like "Last, First  
> M." (besides being different from competing journals by all means)  
> is to allow easy browsing of a reference listing sorted by author  
> names. If you just tell the publisher how you would like to read  
> your name e.g. on a book cover, this is clearly not enough to get  
> useful reference listings. You'll have to add hints as to how your  
> name should be sorted (remember the odd cases like "Van Zandt,  
> Steven" in the "V" section vs. "van Beethoven, Ludwig" in the "B"  
> section). Even if you provide the sorting hint, the listing is  
> still hardly usable if it lists names as provided, e.g. it is hard  
> to find the start of the "N" as in "North" section if the line  
> starts with "Geraint". So I'm afraid there has to be some concept  
> like last name to allow useful reference lists sorted by author names.

I thought this, and then I thought "Why would I ever want to do such  
a thing?".  I read a fair few research papers, and I don't think I've  
ever thought "I wonder who is referenced in this document whose name  
begins with 'M'?"  Sorting does make search easier if you've got the  
paper printed out and so have to search manually yourself, but in  
that case, an effective sort should be driven by the expectations of  
the reader, rather than the preferences of the cited individual - if  
the readers of the paper are predominantly western, then the  
arrangement should reflect their expectations, however incorrect they  
might be.

So in your example, I (as a reader) would want consistency between  
van Beethoven and Van Zandt - I don't care how they like their name  
printed, I just want to be able to find the "Van someone" that I  
vaguely remember in the list.  Indeed, if we were treating the  
references list like an Index (another structure optimised for human- 
search), each name would appear twice.

Wandering off the point slightly, this was the reason that we decided  
to remove the Index from our documentation - it wasn't properly  
marked up with primary terms, See Alsos and so on - it gave the  
reader nothing that they couldn't do by hitting the search box in  
their PDF reader/web browser.


Geraint North
Principal Engineer
* The leader in cross-platform virtualization

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