Re: Exemplifying apostrophes

From: John Hudson (
Date: Thu May 22 2008 - 18:32:35 CDT

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Exemplifying apostrophes"

    David Starner wrote:

    > The space after a comma has no semantic meaning at all, and the space
    > after a period has practically no semantic meaning.

    Wordspaces separate words. They are the first line of semantically
    significant punctuation by preventing ambiguity (as such classic URL's
    as penisland and therapistfinder remind us). Commas and full stops are a
    secondary system separating clauses. Sure, one might argue that, since a
    comma or a full stop necessarily occurs between words, then a following
    word space is unnecessary, but that isn't how the systems works. The
    word separating system and the clause separating systems are
    independent; one does not trump the other.

    > 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.

    Which is very unfortunate because it makes it impossible to anticipate
    and provide a consistent layout-side solution, at least for served text.

    If I were in the habit of typesetting French text, according to
    traditional French typographic conventions, then the first thing I would
    do on receiving any text would be to run a macro to strip out any
    encoded spaces before affected punctuation and then insert the kind of
    spacing appropriate to the particular typeface and size of text I was
    typesetting. That is the level of control at which the size of the space
    needs to be determined.


    Tiro Typeworks
    Gulf Islands, BC
    Nobody can possibly know the reach of language, whether
    liturgical or otherwise, so one should just keep going
    until one is too exhausted to go any further.
                       - Catherine Pickstock

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