Re: Exemplifying apostrophes

From: David Starner (prosfilaes@gmail.com)
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 <john@tiro.ca> 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
    period.)

    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 (<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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