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Re: Getting Emacs to play nice with Hunspell and apostrophes

From: Yuri Khan
Subject: Re: Getting Emacs to play nice with Hunspell and apostrophes
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2014 12:45:50 +0700

On Sat, Jun 14, 2014 at 8:49 AM, Emanuel Berg <address@hidden> wrote:

> The “ and ’ just looks silly and they are
> disruptive. The two chars after the words "such as" I
> cannot see (they are shown as diamonds).

This is where I disagree. Curly quotes (and, in Russian print
tradition, double angle quotes) are what I am used to seeing in print
and consider to be the correct way to write, independent of the
medium. Straight quotes I recognize in both print and on screen as a
no longer necessary homage to the old clunky typewriter, and perceive
as silly.

As for your problems seeing curly quotes, that’s because of your
display engine. Text mode Linux console is limited to at most 512
character shapes; this limitation dates back to the original VGA card
and is another one that should no longer affect us. Nowadays, you
should be able to use a graphical-based text renderer — be it X11 or
framebuffer. Myself, I haven’t bothered to set up a framebuffer
console on any of my computers — I prefer working in an X11
environment with Freetype-rendered, subpixel-antialiased Unicode fonts
and rich xkb customizability.

> the question is *why* -
> what is the gain? who would benefit from it, and how
> so?

By encoding more precise character semantics into our texts, we make
them better suited for any kind of automated processing. Conflating
similarly shaped characters, on the other hand, makes it more

For example, the task of producing nice printouts from an
ASCII-encoded source requires a complex piece of software like
[La]TeX, or the mechanism of entity references in HTML (&ldquo;). On
the other hand, with UTF-8, we can directly encode the desired
characters in a text document and print it out with any text editor or
web browser.

(You can, of course, argue that a printout of an ASCII document with
straight quotes is not too ugly; or that TeX is not exceedingly
complex; or that entity references are not very disrupting.)

> OK, let me tell you how I do ' and ". ' I do by moving
> my right little finger one step (key) to the right. The
> " I do by moving the right little finger to the right
> shift, at the same time as the ring finger slides along
> to the ' key.

Now let me tell you how I do curly quotes.

First, with my right thumb, I hold the AltGr modifier. Then, I press k
and l in sequence to get a balanced pair of double curly quotes, or ;
and ' for single quotes (I customized my xkb configuration files to
get this but it works similarly with the out-of-the-box config). This
works for me in both Latin/English and Cyrillic/Russian layouts. On
the other hand, the straight quote is only available in the Latin
layout; in Russian, I would have to first switch to Latin, then type
the single quote, and finally switch back to Russian.

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