Backslash n [OT] was Line Separator and Paragraph Separator

From: Jill Ramonsky (
Date: Tue Oct 21 2003 - 05:01:52 CST

Call me pedantic, but....

 From "The C Programming Language", Second Edition, by Brian W.
Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie (the architects of C), page 193, which
explicitly lists all allowable escape sequences. This defines them as

    newline NL (LF) \n
    horizontal tab HT \t
    vertical tab VT \v
    backspace BS \b
    carriage return CR \r
    formfeed FF \f
    audible alert BEL \a
    backslash \ \\
    question mark ? \?
    single quote ' \'
    double quote " \"
    octal number /ooo/ \/ooo/
    hex number /hh/ \x/hh/

The second column is clearly a list of ASCII characters, and the first
seven items are clearly a list of ASCII character names. The mapping for
\n is explicitly "NL (LF)". My interpretation of this is that this can
only refer to the ASCII control character LF, since that is what is
explicitly named. (Yes, it's in brackets, but the accompanying text
supplies no addition meaning to or interpretation of those brackets).
This is axiomatically *THE* definition. Period. Everything else is
merely quoting, rephrasing or reinterpretting this original.

I would be more than grateful if someone could point me in the direction
of a DEFINITVE specification which claims this is not the case, that the
interpretion of "\n" as anything other than LF may be considered
conformant behaviour. (Usage does not define conformace to a standard).
I will then be happy to modify my claim.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that violating this spec is wrong, merely
that violating this spec is violating this spec.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cowan []
> Sent: Monday, October 20, 2003 6:32 PM
> To: Jill Ramonsky
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: Line Separator and Paragraph Separator
> > Strictly speaking, BY DEFINITION (from
> the C and C++
> > specs), "\n" is supposed to mean LF, and nothing else,
> It means any one character that serves a new-linish function,
> which can
> be LF or CR or NEL, for example. On EBCDIC-based systems, the native
> C compiler interprets \n as 0x25, which is NEL.

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