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Re: Sentence-end punctuation

From: Michael Piotrowski
Subject: Re: Sentence-end punctuation
Date: Sat, 01 Sep 2001 00:15:13 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.090004 (Oort Gnus v0.04) XEmacs/21.1 (Bryce Canyon)

address@hidden (Greg A. Woods) writes:

> Do you (or anyone else) have any (preferrably online) references to
> documentation describing such regional typesetting customs, and their
> history?

I don't have anything _comprehensive_, so I'd be very interested, too.

>> This is exactly my point: As far as I know, this usage is something
>> very specific to the English language (or its American variant?).  You
>> wouldn't do this in German.
> My point was that regardless of what human language your document is
> written in, you should alwasy delineate sentences with double spaces
> when you're preparing an electronic manuscript in any markup "language",
> and the widely published guides I've read all say the same thing too.

Oops, then it wasn't my point ;-) The German guidelines I know don't
say anything like this.

> The same rules of thumb were strongly advised for typists in
> pre-computer days too.

Ditto, I only know this from English.

> Typically even with text typeset and kerned with a variable-width font
> face there's more visible whitespace at the end of a sentence than there
> is between any two words (at least in an unjustified paragraph).  This
> is true even in German and French magazines and books I've examined.

Hmm. My experience is different, but we might subscribe different
magazines ;-) Thinking about French, I think it actually uses a
spacing very different from both German and English--at least

> However in a mono-spaced font face, such as you obviously get with
> almost any mechanical typewriter, and which many of us still prefer on a
> computer screen, the resulting wider space between sentences is
> extremely valuable for the human reader and makes the text flow to the
> eyes much better.
> These issues are independent of language -- all humans have very similar
> visual perception capabilities.  Typsetting is very much about making
> text easy to read ("letter quality" and all that...).  The additional
> space between sentences is as important as sentence structure is to the
> human language in question.

*Parts* of these issues are independent of language, yes. But much of
it is dependent on language; not the language itself, but its
typographic and orthographic traditions that you're used to. For
example, many Germans reject abolishing the capitalization of nouns,
arguing that it would reading *much* harder. And a good German reader
actually _is_ somewhat slower at reading all-lowercase German text (at
first).  But, guess what, the readers of other languages get along fine
with lower-case nouns.  It's what you're used to.

But I didn't really want to go into this, as it's an area where
everybody seems to have their own opinion ;-)

Michael Piotrowski, M.A.                                  <address@hidden>

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