The issue of the best rules for naming came up recently. I think the way of the future for real human readability is euphony. We want beautiful Code, so why not beautiful markup? With the current discussions on XML 1.0 version 5 and its naming rules buzzing around, euphony has surely never been a more critical issue.
So what might rules be? “Jelliffe” is an old spelling for jolly. My parent’s traced the familly tree back, they think, to Bosham, England a thousand years ago, which is when King Canute was there.
One of the interesting parts of the tree is how often the same names come up: John Jelliffe, William Jelliffe and so on. Common enough names, but relentless and I have often wondered what the euphonic principles were. I have been looking at various a genealogical sites recently, and I think I have cracked the rules.
We start of by discarding wives names. I am not sure many people picked their spouse because of their first name, as in The Importance of being Earnest (though there is an Earnest.) Here are the rules as I see them:
1) Any name that starts with J sound. But this must be a single syllable name (or single plus a diminuative.) John. Jane. James/Jimmy, Charles, Jessie
2) Any name that has an internal rhyme or sound in the same position. Emma, Thelma, Elton, Benton, Benson, Benjamin, Frederick, Fred, Terence, Preston, Elsie, William, Mildred, Helen, Ella, Illah (my favourite), Lillian, Ralph?, Pauline, Wellford, Edyth, Edwin, Jesse, Ethelyne, Elinor, Elward, Patrick
3) Any name with the same rhythm making dash dot dash dot: Catherine, Martha, Robert, Clara, Hazel, Joseph, Edith, David, Taylor, Martin, Emma, Roger, Myrtle, Walter, Waltby, Ella, Vincent, Arthur, Sarah, Eva, Richmond, Zada, Jesse, Elward, Rufus, Walter, William, Zalmon, Mahala, Thirza, Stebbins, Fannie
4) Any name with a soft sound that matches the ffs and soft J: Catherine, Martha, Howard, Edith, Nathaniel, Smith, Fern, Phoebe, Arthur, Eva, Virginia, Willis, Owen, Fond, William, Fannie
Of the rest, there is mob that seems to have surnames as their first name, in the American fashion (Burr). But these rules catch most of them. Some odd runs in New Jersey: Gustiss, Freylinghysen.
So a name like Estha really fits the euphonic bill: 2, 3 and 4.
And I guess it makes sense of the first name Luzon which crops up: rules 3 and 4.
So for people who are passionate about beautiful documents, I suggest that attribute names and namespace prefixes should be picked to be euphonic with the element names. We needn’t, indeed we mustn’t and shan’t, put up with names picked because of some arbitrary theory of utility or historical accident, someone’s mere whim or assertion. We need the science of euphony to get really beautiful markup and proper human memorability (surely a better goal than just readability?)