Translineating hyphens (was: "Re: Proposing a DOUBLE HYPHEN punctuation mark")

From: António Martins-Tuválkin (
Date: Thu Jan 25 2007 - 08:26:17 CST

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    On 2007/1/23, Adam Twardoch <> wrote:

    > On a related note: in Polish typesetting practice, hard
    > hyphens are always promoted to the next line if soft
    > hyphens occur in the text. So if I have a sentence "Tam
    > wisi czerwono-niebieska flaga" and the optimal line
    > break occurs where the hard hyphen already exists,
    > the text will be hyphenated like this:
    > Tam wisi czerwono-
    > -niebieska flaga.

    That's exactly what we do in Portuguese; and we do use a lot of
    hyphens, which are mandatory for half the verbs forms including a

    Skilled typesetters and wp users routinely type *each and every
    hyphen* as a sequence of <soft hyphen> <hard hyphen>, which behave as
    expected in MS Word, InDesign, PageMaker and QuarkExpress (at least).
    The golden rule is «Never type a regular hyphen in Portuguese». Bolder
    types (pun intended) apply this practice when typing other languages,

    Of course unskilled typesetters and wp users (which account for 99,9%
    of everybody sitting in front of a keyboard) use regular hypens and
    even resort to <hyphen> <space> <hyphen> to force the intended
    behaviour, which come out very lame should the pargraph reflow — a
    ususal sight even in newspapaers and books.

    This is especially unfortunate since a homography and ambiguity may
    arise: E.g., "_disparate_" means "folly" while "_dispara-te_" means
    "fire yourself" (or "fires onto you"). The correct way to translineate

    «Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, disparate consectetur adipisicing»

    identical to

    «Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, dispara-
    te consectetur adipisicing.»


    «Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, dispara-te consectetur adipisicing»

    identical to

    «Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, dispara-
    -te consectetur adipisicing.»

    Use of regular hypen yields the same result for both originals,
    leaving the reader to wonder wheather "_disparate_" or "_dispara-te_"
    is intended. Should <hyphen> <space> <hyphen> be inserted in order to
    force the expected behaviour, a paragraph reflow made later on will
    result in:

    «id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
    dispara- -te consectetur adipisicing.»

    P.S.: This is not anymore about «The "double hyphen" I discuss here
    consists of two stacked dashes».

    António Martins-Tuválkin

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