Re: Proposing a DOUBLE HYPHEN punctuation mark

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Mon Jan 22 2007 - 13:16:44 CST

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    On 1/22/2007 10:31 AM, Jon Hanna wrote:
    > Asmus Freytag wrote:
    >> (The Wikipedia article at ""
    >> might be illuminating).
    >> Arno Schmidt is associated with his orthography in German literature
    >> the way e.e.cummings is associated in American literature with the
    >> use of lowercase.
    > E. E. Cummings' use of lower case is regularly overstated or
    > mis-stated (the idea that he used the lower case for his own name
    > being a mis-statement), but that aside this description makes it seem
    > like it was idiosyncratic.
    > If it's idiosyncratic the private use area should be put to use.
    His use of this may have been idiosyncratic originally, but the use of
    it in studies of his work is not. All notation is originally
    idiosyncratic. Nobody argues that this is a case of a mainstream
    character, it's more in line with the symbols and letters we've added
    for specialized notations in mathematics and linguistics, or, more
    recently, the editing of archaic texts.

    Add to that the suspicion, if you will, that if double hyphens show up
    in Schmidt, in Katakana contexts and possibly elsewhere, that there is
    something generic to the concept of doubling a hyphen to make a
    notational point.

    What had been missing was an understanding of the difference between a
    double hyphen *character* and a double hyphen *glyph*. This is mainly,
    but not exclusively due to Fraktur, where the type style demands a
    double stroke glyph.

    As we have learned since, not least for the case of the double oblique
    hyphen, there are cases where these have been used in distinction to
    ordinary hyphens, making clear that what is intended in those cases is a
    *character* difference.

    With the three rules I proposed in my posting, it's now possible to
    decide when to use a font and when to use a character difference. As the
    standard case is the standard hyphen and 99% of people don't need to
    worry about the alternatives, the confusion problem is absent for
    ordinary users. Specialists will need to make decisions how to edit
    their texts, but having to think about which character to use is less of
    a problem than not having the right character. Pushing people into
    substituting = because it's the only thing that looks close is just wrong.


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