Re: A sign/abbreviation for "magister"

From: Marcel Schneider via Unicode <>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2018 23:37:13 +0100 (CET)

On 31/10/2018 19:42, Asmus Freytag via Unicode wrote:
> On 10/31/2018 11:10 AM, Marcel Schneider via Unicode wrote:
> >
> > > which, if my understanding of "convient" is correct, carefully does
> > > [not] quite say that it is *wrong* not to superscript, but that one should
> > > superscript when one can because that is the convention in typography.
> >
> > Draft style may differ from mail style, and this, from typography, only
> > due to the limitations imposed by input interfaces. These limitations are
> > artificial and mainly the consequence of insufficient development of said
> > interfaces. If the computer is anything good for, then that should also
> > include the transition from typewriter fallbacks to the true digital
> > representation of all natural languages. Latin not excluded.
> It is a fallacy that all text output on a computer should match the convention
> of "fine typography".
> Much that is written on computers represents an (unedited) first draft. Giving
> such texts the appearance of texts, which in the day of hot metal typography,
> was reserved for texts that were fully edited and in many cases intended for
> posterity is doing a disservice to the reader.

The disconnect is in many people believing the user should be disabled to write
his or her language without disfiguring it by lack of decent keyboarding, and
that such input should be considered standard for user input. Making such text
usable for publishing needs extra work, that today many users cannot afford,
while the mass of publishing has increased exponentially over the past decades.
The result is garbage, following the rule of “garbage in, garbage out.” The real
disservice to the reader is not to enable the inputting user to write his or her
language correctly. A draft whose backbone is a string usable as-is for publishing
is not a disservice, but a service to the reader, paying the reader due respect.
Such a draft is also a service to the user, enabling him or her to streamline the
workflow. Such streamlining brings monetary and reputational benefit to the user.

That disconnect seems to originate from the time where the computer became a tool
empowering the user to write in all of the world’s languages thanks to Unicode.
The concept of “fine typography” was then used to draw a borderline between what
the user is supposed to input, and what he or she needs to get for publication.
In the same move, that concept was extended in a way that it should include the
quality of the string, additionally to what _fine typography_ really is: fine
tuning of the page layout, such as vertical justification, slight variations in
the width of non-breakable spaces, and of course, discretionary ligatures.

Producing a plain text string usable for publishing was then put out of reach
of most common mortals, by using the lever of deficient keyboarding, but also
supposedly by an “encoding error” (scare quotes) in the line break property of
U+2008 PUNCTUATION SPACE, that should be non-breakable like its siblings
U+2007 FIGURE SPACE (still—as per UAX #14—recommended for use in numbers) and
U+2012 FIGURE DASH to gain the narrow non-breaking space needed to space the
triads in numbers using space as a group separator, and to space big punctuation
in a Latin script using locale, where JTC1/SC2/WG2 had some meetings for the UCS:

For everybody having beneath his or her hands a keyboard whose layout driver is
programmed in a fully usable way, the disconnect implodes. At encoding and input
levels (the only ones that are really on-topic in this thread) the sorcery called
fine typography sums then up to nothing else than having the keyboard inserting
fully diacriticized letters, right punctuation, accurate space characters, and
superscript letters as ordinal indicators and abbreviation endings, depending
on the requirements.

Now was I talking about “all text output on a computer”? No, I wasn’t.

The computer is able to accept input of publishing-ready strings, since we have
Unicode. Precluding the user from using the needed characters by setting up
caveats and prohibitions in the Unicode Standard seems to me nothing else than
an outdated operating mode. U+202F NARROW NO-BREAK SPACE, encoded in 1999 for
Mongolian [1][2], has been readily ripped off by the French graphic industry.
In 2014, TUS started mentioning its use in French [3]; in 2018, it put it on
top [4].
That seems to me a striking example of how things encoded for other purposes
are reused (or following a certain usage, “abused”, “hacked”, “hijacked”) in
locales like French. If it wasn’t an insult to minority languages, that
language could be called, too, “digitally disfavored” in a certain sense.

> On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in applying certain styling attributes
> to things like e-mail or discussion papers. Well-placed emphasis can make such
> texts more readable (without requiring that they pay attention to all other
> facets of "fine typography".)

The parenthesized sidenote (that is probably the intended main content…) makes
this paragraph wrong. I’d buy it if either the parenthesis is removed or if it
comes after the following.

With due respect, I need to add that the disconnect in that is visible only to
French readers. Without NNBSP, punctuation à la française in e-mails is messed
up because even NBSP is ignored (I don’t know what exactly happens at backend;
anyway at frontend it’s like a normal space in at least one e-mail client and
in several if not all browsers, and if pasted in plain text from MS Word, it’s
truly replaced with SP. All that makes e-mails harder to read. Correct spacing
with punctuation in French is often considered “fine-tuning”, but only if that
punctuation spacing is not supported by the keyboard driver, and that’s still
almost always the case, except on the updated version 1.1 of the bépo layout
(and some personal prototypes not yet released).

Not using angle quotation marks doesn’t fix it, given four other punctuation
marks still need spacing (and are almost forcibly spaced with SP by lack of
anything better), and given not using angle quotation marks makes any French
text harder to read when there is no means to distinguish citation quotes
« … » and scare quotes “…” following a scheme that may not be well known yet.
See already [5] (with the reader comments) for an overview of the problem.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,


[1] TUS version 3, chapter 6, page 150, table:

[2] TUS version 10 (the last one having detailed bookmarks), ch. 13, p. 534:

[3] TUS version 7, chapter 6, page 265:

[4] TUS version 11, chapter 6, page 265 (no direct link):

[5] « Les antiguillemets comme symboles de la postvérité », /Le Devoir/, 2016-12-30 (in French):
Received on Wed Oct 31 2018 - 17:37:28 CDT

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