Italics get used to express important semantic meaning, so unicode should support them

John W Kennedy john.w.kennedy at
Wed Dec 16 07:13:07 CST 2020

John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract,
Man only earns and pays."
 -- Charles Williams.  "Bors to Elayne:  On the King's Coins"

> On Dec 15, 2020, at 10:25 PM, Zach Lym via Unicode <unicode at> wrote:
>> Finally, what I'm envisioning — and I'm not sure how closely this
>> matches Christian Kleineidam's intention (where did he go, anyway?) —
>> is not Yet Another Presentation Layer or a Shiny New Toy for people to
>> use in their tweets, but more of a sombre hint that "in the original
>> source document, this text had an alternative presentation; indicate
>> this to the user in an appropriate way, if applicable". It's meant for
>> preservation, not decoration. That's why I hear the "spirit of
>> Unicode".
> For those of us that can recall the exuberance of the XHTML movement,
> <i>, <b> and friends were all deemed to be insufficiently semantic and
> slated to be replaced by <em> and <strong>.  Of course, this was a
> distinction without a difference and now we just have extra tags that
> are more verbose and less literal.

<em> and <strong> go back to HTML+ in 1993, where they replaced <hp1> and <hp2> from the original HTML, which had inherited them from IBM’s original GML (no S) of the 1970s.

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