From: David Starner (email@example.com)
Date: Thu May 22 2008 - 17:40:35 CDT
On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 12:59 PM, John Hudson <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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 Wikipédia 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 (<http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes_fr/0001_fr.html>,
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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