Re: French group separators

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Mon Jul 07 2003 - 08:04:37 EDT

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    On 07/07/2003 04:15, Philippe Verdy wrote:

    >The list separator in French is preferably the semicolon, rather than a comma
    >(which must then have a space):
    >=> "123<thin space>;<standard space>456"
    >The <thin space> is here also encoded accroding to the character encoding
    >constraints and fonts (here also less wide than a digit, unbreakable and
    >not justified).
    Earlier he wrote:

    >In strict historic English typography, the unbreakable whitespaces before punctuations are often smaller (sixth of cadratin) and that's why they are often missed in ASCII-only text.

    I wonder if here we are confusing character encoding with adjustments
    which should be made during rendering and typesetting - and which
    perhaps in the days of hot metal were made by including thin spacers.
    Are you really suggesting that the huge quantities of text in English,
    French and other languages, in ASCII and Unicode, are actually wrongly
    encoded, because there is almost invariably no character code for a thin
    space before punctuation? Surely it would be much more sensible to
    accept that this text is correctly encoded, and leave it to the text
    rendering or typesetting process to adjust the position of punctuation
    marks as appropriate.

    I can just imagine the horrendous consequences for scripts like Hebrew
    and Arabic if the principle is established that a variety of thin spaces
    etc should be encoded in the text to indicate the typographically ideal
    exact positioning of each small glyph.

    Peter Kirk

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