Why xml:lang instead of lang?

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What was the reason to introduce a new attribute "xml:lang"
instead of "lang"? This bothers both authors and browsers
in different language versions: HTML 4, XHTML 1.0, XHTML 1.1.
HTML has only "lang"; XHTML 1.1 has only "xml:lang";
XHTML 1.0 has both!

For example, Mozilla 1.7 recognizes the lang attribute
but it does not recognize the xml:lang attribute.

What do we gain from "xml:lang"?

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