lucy24 - 1:13 am on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)
If you read the w3c specs closely you'll see that it's the table cells that are really anomalous. Everywhere else, "vertical-align" has an entirely different definition. A further complication is that CSS has to allow for vertical scripts. Changes in their alignment will be expressed as "left" or "right" rather than "top" or "bottom".
The alignment of text and inline-level content is defined in [CSS3TEXT] and [[CSS3LINEBOX]].
Anyway, not much point to asking retroactively why something wasn't done ten years ago. The question is what's happening now.