Hi, Dave...

A few more comments on this non-issue. and
then I will be silent, lest someone think I am
flaming you, which is not my intention...   :)

----- Original Message -----
From: Dave Thomas <Dave / thomases.com>
To: ruby-talk ML <ruby-talk / netlab.co.jp>
Sent: Saturday, May 27, 2000 11:56 AM
Subject: [ruby-talk:03009] Re: mismatched quotation


> "Hal E. Fulton" <hfulton / austin.rr.com> writes:
>
> > However, what we use here (email, ordinary text
> > files, etc.) is not typography, nor do we have any
> > way of rendering it as such (other than the system
> > many people use of substituting a backtick for a
> > left single quote and a single quote for a right
> > single quote).
>
> Except the documents _are_ being rendered typographically as well -
> the same source is used for pdf output and for html output (it fact in
> the case of the reference pages the same source is actually being
> directly typeset). I can't think of a reliable way of changing
> backticks to single quotes automatically.

That's fine, but it does bother me a little that typesetting (traditionally
the publisher's job) is being done by authors now just because they
have better tools than they used to.

Sanity check: A backtick is different from a left single quote, period.
Are you handling the case where you use a backtick (in inline text)
and you really mean backtick? As, for example, the command
substitution string as borrowed from sh?   time=`date`

> > Notice that in a "real" typeset book, a quote (single or
> > double) leans toward the thing being quoted. But the
> > single and double quotes that we use are vertical (" ')
> > showing that they serve as both left- and right-hand
> > quotes.
>
> From that I'd guess you're a Windows user. I just popped over to my NT
> box, and you're right, the ` and ' are not symmetrical there. On my
> Linux box under X, however, they make a perfectly matched pair, just
> as they would when typeset.

As for X, I do use it at work, and the quotes look asymmetrical there,
too. A question of fonts, I suppose.

> I wonder if there's a Windows codepage that represents the ` and '
> characters better?

There's nothing wrong with the way they're represented. They are not
paired characters. Look at the keys themselves. On most keyboards
(the new Windoze keyboards excepted), they do not even look like
mirror images.

In traditional typography ("curly quotes" as MS Word calls them), the left
single quote looks rather like a 6, and the right one rather like a 9. But
a backtick is a backtick is a backtick. It looks somewhat like an accent
mark.

This is one of the things that MS Word actually gets right. If you turn on
"smart quoting" and type 'foo' -- it will get changed to the appropriate
quotes. If you type `foo' -- it will leave the backtick alone.

Furthermore, two single quotes do not make a double quote. Try looking
at it in any monospaced font on any operating system.

I suppose this practice arose when the backtick  character was added to
most keyboards.  People saw it, mistook it for a left single quote, and
used it as such.

I don't know when the backtick was added, but I never saw it until the
early seventies. But then, I never saw much of anything until the early
seventies.  :)

To put it simply, in ordinary typing, left and right quotes are the same
characters. (Make a phone call to old Mrs. Grimby, your high school
typing teacher, and see what she says.)

When a book is typeset, the typesetter has traditionally changed these
to balanced "curly" quotes. This is analogous to the practice of typing
two hyphens (or, heaven help us, one hyphen) to represent an em dash.
Typesetters fix this, too.

Don't even get me started on the difference between a hyphen and an
en (that's EN) dash. This has given the Unicode people fits, I hear.

> > But I don't believe there is a typing teacher (or a book or
> > magazine publisher) who actually condones this, much less
> > teaches it. Go look it up in the _Chicago Manual of Style_ or
> > in any publisher's manuscript guidelines, and please correct
> > me if I am wrong.
>
> Well... you'll find many examples in the CMoS that _do_ differentiate
> open and closed quotes, both single and double. In fact, in any book
> you pick up, you'll see the same differentiation. The problem isn't
> the convention. The problem is that Windows fonts fail to represent `
> and ' as paired characters. Go figure...

Of course the examples differentiate between them, because it's a
typeset book just like any other typeset book. But what does it SAY
about usage of them in manuscript preparation, assuming people
are not doing their own typesetting? (And honestly, very few people
do!)

As another example: Thank God we have tools now that let us produce
printouts with italics in them. In the Age of Typewriters, you would do
underlining, or if you were really fancy, you would switch out the ball and
put in an italic ball. Thank God that is all history.

But... two points.

1. Not all software understands text the same way. If we send mail as RTF
or as HTML or some other such format. But not all software understands
such formats -- nor can it usually be displayed in a non-graphical
context --
which is why, to this day, people STILL use conventions like _underscoring_
when they mean italics.

2. The publishing guidelines that I have seen (and this may not be
universal)
still want writers to represent italics as underlined text! That is actually
one
of their requirements. Yes, it is historical, and yes, perhaps it should go
away.
But it isn't gone yet.

Hal