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So going back to the non-standard (in the english-speaking world) 
examples Karen raised that largely prompted this discussion:

On Jan 23, 2004, at 10:49 AM, Karen Coyle wrote:

> Note that a nonSort element is not always a full word and
> doesn't always get spaces, such as in 17th and 18th century works in
> French where the apostrophe was not used: Lhistoire.... In this case,
> the nonSort is "L" and there are no spaces; or in Arabic, where the
> nonSort is "al-", as in: al-ʻArabah al-dhahabīyah lā taṣʻad.

I wonder if this would work?

<titleInfo xml:lang="fr">
    <nonSort>L</nonSort>
    <title>historie...</title>
</titleInfo>

<titleInfo xml:lang="ar">
    <nonSort>al</nonSort>
    <title>Arabah</title>
    <nonSort>al</nonSort>
    <title>dhahabīyah lā taṣʻad</title>
</titleInfo>

If you can't make a rule that defines the space and punctuation 
handling for all instances in each language (e.g. "put a space after 
all English nonSort element content, none after French, and a hyphen 
after Arabic"), then you could always define in an XSLT file a set of 
keys that would specify such formatting depending on the content.

This is analogous to the name problem, of course:

<name type="personal">
    <namePart type="given">Ali</namePart>
    <namePart type="articular">bin</namePart>
    <namePart type="given">Ahmed</namePart>
    <namePart type="articular">bin</namePart>
    <namePart type="given">Saleh</namePart>
    <namePart type="family">Al-Fulani</namePart>
    <displayName>Ali bin Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Fulani</displayName>
</name>

Sadly, this doesn't solve the sort order/formatting problem, because 
the only given name that matters is the first one (the others are given 
names for the father and grandfather respectively).  So I suppose that 
would mean dropping the type attribute for the other given names.  Or 
alternately, I suppose:

<name type="personal">
    <namePart type="given">Ali</namePart>
    <namePart type="family">Al-Fulani</namePart>
    <displayName>Ali bin Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Fulani</displayName>
</name>

I got this from here:

     http://www.arab.net/arabnames/

Then there's a rather infamous arabic name:

<name type="personal">
    <namePart type="given">Osama</namePart>
    <namePart type="articular">bin</namePart>
    <namePart type="family">Laden</namePart>
    <displayName>Osama bin Laden</displayName>
</name>

I get the suspicion that Laden is in fact a given name (his father's), 
and I have no idea how it ought to be formatted in a bibliographic 
reference list, except that it should not be "bin Laden, Osama"!  
Ugh...

Bruce