Re: Exemplifying apostrophes

From: David Starner (
Date: Thu May 22 2008 - 17:40:35 CDT

  • Next message: John Hudson: "Re: Exemplifying apostrophes"

    On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 12:59 PM, John Hudson <> wrote:
    > A word space is a semantic separator. The space that French typographers
    > traditionally place before some punctuation marks is not. It doesn't change
    > the meaning of the text whether that space is present or not.

    The space after a comma has no semantic meaning at all, and the space
    after a period has practically no semantic meaning. (I can think of
    some cases with abbreviations versus sentence endings, but they
    frequently, probably usually, have the same amount of space after the

    I think I agree with Asmus, in that fine-tuning the width of the space
    is probably excessive and is something we can best let intelligent
    software tweak and less-intelligent software handle simply.

    > Is that what people 'write' (input) though? French emails cross my screen from
    > time to time, and I've never seen care taken in them to put extra space before
    > semicolons or colons etc. I strongly suspect that most French people using
    > typewriters did not insert spaces before punctuation. And what percentage
    > of French websites attempt to replicate this feature of French typography?

    I don't know if the French Wikip├ędia has specific rules on this, but
    the text I quoted came from there, and hitting "Un article au hasard"
    a few times and searching for ';' came up with a majority of spaced
    semicolons. So it's certainly not unheard of. Looking around, I see it
    done both ways; the two semicolons in the French translation of Darths
    and Droids (<>,
    etc.) are both spaced. A quick search suggests to me that while
    there's quite a bit of variety, French users do in fact frequently
    space out their semicolons.

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