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Re: portability of quote marks

From: Grant Taylor
Subject: Re: portability of quote marks
Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2019 11:29:04 -0700
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On 2/2/19 9:29 AM, Doug McIlroy wrote:
M4 uses ASCII character 0x60 as a left quote. Revisions of the ASCII standard have variously identified this character as "left quote-grave accent" and simply "grave accent", and have warned that it may have different interpretations internationally. Has this ambiguity affected the use of m4 outside the US? If so, how?

I'm inside the US, so my answer might not be from whom your seeking.

I've had occasion to change the left / opening and right / closing quite in m4 a few times. I usually change it to a left / opening and right / closing bracket / brace, which ever is best for what I'm doing.

Aside:  Doing so also make's vim's syntax highlighting happier.

(An aesthetic effect, felt even in the US, is that left and right quotes may be quite unsymmetric, depending on the type font in which programs are rendered. This has the unfortunate side effect of deterring use of identical text for testing and for publication.)

Maybe it's my ignorance, but I've always viewed the US keyboard layouts, and ASCII in general, to have three distinct characters; single quote, double quote—both of which are directionless—and the back-tick character which has a distinctly different meaning to me. That being said, I have seen a number of people / languages—m4 included—(mis)use the back-tick as an opening single quote, something that I dislike and disagree with.

What little I've done with other fancier character sets, particularly related to Unicode / UTF-8 / UTF-16, have different left / opening and right / closing quotes, both single and double. I believe these four characters are independent of the three previously mentioned non-directional single and double quote as well as the back tick.

As such, these seven different characters, only three of which are easy to access in US / ASCII, have different glyphs and representation styles.

From what I've seen, this turns in to a very slippery slope into a very deep and dark hole if / when you talk to typographers.

Grant. . . .
unix || die

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