[sword-devel] Sword support of indents and line breaks

David "Judah's Shadow" Blue yudahsshadow at gmx.com
Sat Apr 13 10:08:26 MST 2013

On Saturday, April 13, 2013 04:33:16 PM John Austin wrote:
> It has been demonstrated through such comprehension testing, that 
> indents are important to achieving the best comprehension. For 
> in one major language of the region, it was discovered that when a 
> margin (i.e.. "Jesus said", or "said Jesus") is embedded in a 
> that people would often trip over the reading. And when, 
> the quote margin was placed between quotes, or breaking up the 
> (ie "Go forth and multiply", said Joe, "and also live long and prosper") 
> that comprehension sometimes completely failed. The reader did not 
> understand that the quote was a continuation of the same speaker. 
It was 
> found that the best comprehension was attained by starting with a 
> newline followed by an indent, followed by the quote margin, then by 
> colon and another newline followed immediately by another indent 
> (without a blank line in between), and then finally followed by the 
> entire quote itself. This construct was determined, for this particular 
> language, to bring the best comprehension to readers of this 
> This construct may be unique to this language, or it may not (turns 
> it's not). The point is that the careful selection of the indents and 
> the line breaks (or lack thereof) are very intentional, so as to 
> the best and quickest comprehension.

Then let me, perhaps, suggest something based on my understanding 
after reading the whole thread. The situation that you've described is 
that there is some language/culture/dialect/whatever, X, that requires 
certain white-spacing within textual media, in certain contexts, or else 
the text will not be comprehended well, if at all. The best way to achieve 
this comprehension, within X, is with a particular method of line-
breaking and indenting. You are currently calling this white-spacing an 
indent, and requesting The Sword Project library use an OSIS milestone 
that directs front ends to indent the presentation of the text thus. I 
would argue that this is not the correct way to think about this. Rather 
than tying the concept to the presentational metric of indents, it 
should have its own name. I'm going to call these "indents" LCWANs for 
now (LCWAN being Linguistic Construct Without an Adequate Name). 

Now the problem is how to encode an LCWAN in OSIS. From what you 
have said, you consider making it some sort of type/class of paragraph 
is inadequate as LCWANs are not paragraphs, linguistically, 
semantically, or presentationally within X. Further, some front end Y 
somewhere, sometime, somehow may decide that all OSIS paragraphs 
have either proceeding or ending white-space (or both) which would 
change the white-spacing around an LCWAN, thus reducing 
comprehension, as well as transmission of the intent of the translators. 
Now, I haven't read the OSIS schema to know, but I would think that, 
without having to resort to adding LCWAN elements, you might could 
use a <div> element with an LCWAN class (I don't know if OSIS <div>s 
have the same block level issues that (X)HTML ones do WRT white-
spacing). If this is limited strictly to quotes, some sort of class of the 
<q> element may be appropriate. In fact, if certain encoding rules/best 
practices/whatever are agreed on, then, even using OSIS paragraph 
marking, it could be such that if front end Y crops up, then the errant 
display of LCWANs may be considered a front end bug.

> The bottom line is this:
> In every way that the words themselves are content, so are the 
> and line breaks. All three components: the words themselves, the 
> indents, and the line breaks are all deliberately chosen to achieve 
> best possible comprehension of the written text. None of these are 
> later for reasons of style, structure, or presentation. They are each 
> added one at a time by a translator's hand to achieve maximum 
> comprehension. Via the indents and line breaks the translator is 
> to convey the meaning of Scripture in the most comprehensible way 

Yes, and the reason you are getting push back on this is that hard-
coding indents, even linguistically meaningful indents, is not the way to 
achieve this. You have yet to address what the comprehension of these 
LCWANs are on a 1.5" screen, where you are lucky to not have single 
words wrapping on multiple lines, or on a two (or more) column display 
(such as BibleTime uses for parallel display) with limited margins, or 
how they should be read by a TTS system/Braille display, or even how 
they should be treated by an M2M setup where presentation of the text 
is meaningless, since program Z is sending data to program A for some 
sort of processing/analysis, and may never actually be shown to a user. 

If the goal of the translation is the furtherance of the gospel and 
glorification of God by speakers of X, then these are things that 
/*_MUST_*/ be considered as well, /especially/ the accessibility and 
display size issues.

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