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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 21:51:43 +0700

On Sat, Jun 14, 2014 at 6:14 PM, Emanuel Berg <address@hidden> wrote:
> Yuri Khan <address@hidden> writes:
>> 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, so what? I expect that people of all cultures who were exposed to
books printed before the advent of the computer and the word processor
are used to typographic characters.

> 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.

They are that way because they were written in the dark age of ten
thousand code pages and never updated to Unicode.

The GCC error messages in the en_US.utf8 locale, on the other hand, do
use curly quotes.

>> 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.

They exist *because* there was a certain technical limitation in the
last fifty years or so. Since this limitation has been removed, there
is no reason for them.

OK, I do not suggest that Perl should drop its backtick operator or
that computer languages universally start using curly quotes for
character and string literals (although that would make many languages
more elegant by simplifying parsing). But how about we reserve all
these artificial characters for computer languages, one of which
English is not.

>> As for your problems seeing curly quotes, that’s
>> because of your display engine.
> Yes, another reason why not to use them.

I believe users of the VGA text console are intelligent beings and
respect their decision to suffer.

> 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.

For configuration files, by all means, the character which is proper
for that particular file format must be used.

Otherwise, primarily, the material will be read by a human being, and
only secondarily in a computer program. I wish for a future where the
Web replaces the printed book, therefore, the Web must do all things
books do, and then some.

> 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.

No. If I have to read a printed document, every straight quote, every
hyphen used in place of a dash, every uneven space, pulls me out of
the flow. The only way for me to stop thinking about the characters is
if they are exactly as in a book typeset by a skilled typesetter on a
pre-computer-era press.

Yes, LaTeX does a lot to produce a beautifully typeset printout from
an ASCII source. This is not enough; I want that same beautiful
typesetting on screen, in browser, in any page width I happen to have,
in my favorite typeface and font size, without having to recompile the
document. And at the same time, it does too much. It has to maintain,
and document authors have to utilize, a multitude of workarounds that
are caused by TeX not using Unicode internally.

> 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.

The difference between ' and AltGr+' is almost negligible for me.
Additionally, when I use an apostrophe in a string constant in a
language where strings are delimited by single quotes, or double curly
quotes where delimited by double quotes, I don’t have to
backslash-quote them.

I do understand we have engaged in a holy war not directly related to
the original poster’s problem. Let’s agree to disagree.

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