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Re: Getting Emacs to play nice with Hunspell and apostrophes

From: Emanuel Berg
Subject: Re: Getting Emacs to play nice with Hunspell and apostrophes
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2014 13:14:45 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)

Yuri Khan <address@hidden> writes:

>> 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

OK, I believe you. However, the point I made with all
people coming from different cultures is that it
doesn't matter where we are from individually. When I
went to school, I suppose I was most comfortable with
Swedish. But I'm not supposing we all switch to
Swedish! OK, that's a ridiculous example as it is
extreme, while what we discuss now is perhaps trivial
(' or ’) - but in principle it is the same. The
computer language is English, and as I showed - the man
pages for ls and emacs, as well as the RFC excerpt, as
well as all experience with mails and Usenet and
programming culture - all show that in "Computer
English", ' (not ’) is correct. In a sense, this
language is something that even the US, UK, etc. people
have to acquire, though in another way altogether, of
course. You see, kernel, allocation, dynamic, data
structure, heap, process, deadlock, etc. are all
English words. But put together a sentence and show it
to a surfer in Southern California. You know what I'm
saying? (By the way, do you know what they call a guy
in Southern California who is interested in cars?
Well, a "sensitive intellectual" :)) - now, the Scots
and Irish are of course not calling their variables
McDigit or O'String, but do they write <centre>,
DialogueBox, background-colour, and so on?  No - in
Computer English it is <center>, DialogBox, and
background-color, just as it is ', not ’.

> independent of the medium

There is no such independence. There are computers.

> 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.

They are not homages to anything - they exist. It is of
course interesting to know why they are there but as
for as for this discussion it doesn't matter. What
matters is that they are there, they exist.

> As for your problems seeing curly quotes, that’s
> because of your display engine.

Yes, another reason why not to use them.

> 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 Linux console is faster with text than Emacs
running in for example xterm. I could get a faster
computer hypothetically but then I'd also have to spend
hours getting the keyboard and fonts and everything as
I want them. But I already have that, so why do it? But
I don't think the console is that much "better" than
X/xterm in general - just in my case with all the
configuration, I'm very happy with that and see no
reason to do it again in X. And certainly not for this

> 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
> complicated.
> 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.)

ASCII doesn't look ugly printed, it looks the same as
it does on computers. But the main propose of ASCII of
course isn't to be printed but to be processed and
crunched... and read (on computers).

I can't say I have that much respect for HTML as a
technical system but yes, I think ' should be used,
both when typing and in presentation - where the
material will be read in a browser (i.e., a computer
program) and sometimes yanked to a mail or post or
configuration file.

LaTeX is indeed complex but it is for a good reason -
so there won't be any limitations creating complex
documents. When you print LaTeX I don't really care
what the chars look like because with LaTeX you
typically print ambitious documents of several pages so
then you get into the flow when reading, so you stop
thinking about the chars really fast. However, every
code/configuration file snippet, man page quote and so
on should use '. Also, when you write LaTeX, only '
(and the like) should be used just as is the case for
programming, HTML, and all other computer writing and
programming. But after that, when a PDF has been
created, that is sort of beyond the dynamic world of
computers and more into the book world - there, I don't
see any real benefits of using either ' or ’. However,
since it doesn't really matter, why not stick to ' as
it is the de facto standard?

>> 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.

Yes, but when you program and write in English (like
now), don't you use the US keyboard layout? That's what
I do to get the brackets and the semicolon and all that
with no fuss - it is not that I use the Swedish chars
that much, anyway! (Which is again the whole point.)
And with the US layout, ' (and so on) are easier to
type than the chars you suggest.

underground experts united:

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