compared with human languages

Joost van Meeteren

HTML5 & human languages - links - Ontleden: redekundig - taalkundig.

Google Images - 'sentence analysis model'. - zinsontleding. - Zinsdelen (redekundig ontleden).

Wikipedia - Dependency grammar.

Wikipedia - Immediate constituent analysis.

Wikipedia - Phrase structure grammar. - woordsoorten. - Woordsoorten (taalkundig ontleden). - Linguistic Terms. - Taalkundige termen.

HTML5 & human languages - Introduction


intro. The structure of sentences in human languages shows us interesting similarities to the basic structure of HTML5.

Human languages like English and HTML5 both have a modular structure.

"Modular" means here that a sentence in English and the HTML5 page consists of blocks or functional units that form together their unique unity: a message / a story, an HTML5 page.

Each block called here "element" has its own function in the unity.

hierarchy. In both systems all elements are hierarchically related to each other. And next to it each element has an hierarchy in itself.

human language. In the sentence The old man is driving his new car the predicate (expressing action) element is driving is the core element of the sentence. The man as subject ('who is acting') and the new car as object ('what is done') of the sentence are a working-out of the action and dependent on the predicate.
In this constellation the subject is functionally dominant over the object. The object can be omitted, the subject cannot. Every action needs explicitly an specific actor. But the object of the action is apparently less important to mention because eating automatically assumes an eatable object.

In the predicate element is driving you see two word elements that form an hierarchical relationship to each other: driving is the core of the predicate, is can be considered as a grammatical, attributal element added to driving.
This internal hierarchical relationship we also see in The old man and his new car. The attributes The, old, his and new are placed left of the core words man and car in both elements.

HTML5. Compare the mentioned linguistic unity (= sentence) with an HTML5 unity. Let's take the head and body elements. Both elements are important to transfer the message to the visitor of the web page. The title element in the head section displays a title for the page in search-engine results. The p element in the body section containing one or more sentences and / or images shows us the real content.
In this constellation I would consider the p element as more important than the title element. Without the p element containing text and images there is no message at all to be shown to the visitor. Without the title element the findability of the page on the internet is weak. The content is still there, visible. So the body can be considered as the core element in the html element (the web page as a whole).
Inside the body element we see different hierarchical relationships. The div element is dominant over the p element; the p element is always placed inside a div element and not vice versa. Attributes - hierarchically less important - added to the div and p elements are put left of the content of the element, that means placed in the start tag of the element.
In addition, attributes can be omitted; attributes provide additional information (alt as replaceable info to an image) or functions (styling). In human languages you see the same principle: the and old in the old man are only additional (grammatical and semantical) information added to man.


While English or Finnish are produced by peoples voices, HTML5 is an artificial product of the human brain.

All elements in a sentence represent a part of the content, the message as a whole. In an HTML5 page only the body element represents the content.

position of attributes

HTML5: In HTML5 attributes are always placed in the start tag. I think this is not a logical choice, but the result of intuitive thinking in English.

English: In English attributes (preposition, article, adverb, adjective) are always to the left of the core element (substantive). In the predicate the same principle is applied: in has bought or has been eaten bought and eaten are the kernel of the element; has and has been are the verbal attributes placed to the left of the kernel verbal forms.

Finnish: If Finnish was chosen to programm HTML5, then the structure of HTML5 might have been very different from the real situation now. In the 'Finnish' situation attributes were perhaps placed in the end tag: <p>pöydällä</p class="bg-success"> in stead of the real situation in <p class="bg-success">pöydällä</p>. See also example 2 below.


This article is a first step, not a final elaboration of a thought. A challenge to everyone who is interested in human and artificial languages.

HTML5 & human languages - Examples

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