Re: Latin-1's apostrophe, grave accent, acute accent

From: Otto Stolz (
Date: Tue Aug 03 1999 - 13:35:33 EDT

Am 1999-8-2 um 23:54 hat Juliusz Chroboczek geschrieben:
> Whatever change you make to codepoints 0 up to 255 will have an effect
> not only on Unicode-based applications, but also on all applications
> using locale-based charsets when running in an ISO 8859-1 locale. In
> these applications, the Unicode characters for quotes will not be
> accessible. At all.

But the Latin-1 characters will be, in those locales were this habit
of mis-using gravis and apostrophe for quotes is en vogue. So people
could start mis-using gravis and acute, instead.

> Furthermore, many users (including me) have their fingers hardwired to
> using them when quoting.

And many users (including me) are appalled of seeing quotes delimited
by a gravis (oblique) and an apostrophe (vertical) on most systems they
are using, apart from the occasional xterm. Everybody sending mail to
an international list, or preparing a WWW page, should not expect the
idiosyncracies of his favourite environment are understood everywhere.
(This holds, of course, for Windows users alike, who cannot expect
the CP 1252 characters in the 80..9F range to be understood elswhere.)

So I urge all users of xterm, and similar environments, to try to get
rid of this undue habit. One good reminder would be a fixed font com-
prising an apostrophe glyph that is definitely not a mirror (or turned)
image of the gravis.

> There currently is a large number of Unix applications that use
> `\verb|'|' and `\verb|'|' as single quotes. [...] Changing [a
> slanted glyph shape for the apostrophe] will only become practical
> when most Unix applications are Unicode based.

In contrary, changing the apostrophe glyph to a vertical, or comma-shaped,
form is the starting point that will eventually push those Unix applic-
ations where it matters into the right (i. e. portable) direction.

Many other Unix applications use ASCII special characters in rather
arbitrary ways (e. g. the various special characters used in the shells,
in regular expressions, or in various programming languages). All of
these special meanings must be explicitely learned by their potential
users, and they will always be perceived as exceptions bound to part-
icular usages.

> I would like to very strongly ask you to revert to a slanted glyph
> shape for the apostrophe.

I would very strongly ask Markus to do the Right Thing, and provide a
symmetric (vertical) glyph for the ASCII apostrophe, as it is depicted
on most European keyboards, indicating that this character is a place-
holder for several different (typographic) characters with various shapes.

Best wishes,
   Otto Stolz

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