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Re: [Groff] French punctuation

From: Steve Izma
Subject: Re: [Groff] French punctuation
Date: Tue, 18 May 2010 23:09:32 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)

On Wed, May 19, 2010 at 10:39:20AM +1000, Robert Thorsby wrote:
> Subject: Re: [Groff] French punctuation
> Without trying to re-open the debate about the "correct" spacing 
> between the dots in the ellipsis, my Bible on the subject [the NSW 
> Government Printer's "Printing Style Manual" first published in 1966, 
> revised in 1969] predates computer technology and states that the 
> separation between the dots in an ellipsis shall be an en-quad -- and 
> woe betide any mere mortal civil servant who sent an MS to the Govt 
> Printer with an instruction to do otherwise.

But it's an interesting debate.

I think most North American style guides agree that if the
sentences on either side of the missing material are
grammatically complete, then the truncated matter should end with
a period (i.e., no space before), followed by three ellipsis
characters, followed by a word space. The Chicago Manual of Style
elaborates on this fairly clearly, but it also quotes from a
supporter of the model that Tadziu would prefer -- three dots
only under all circumstances. I think the former model is easier
to read, regardless of the existence of a capital letter
following the break. If the capitalized letter is a proper noun,
then the reader needs to stop and think about what's going on.

But typographically, the key issue is the spacing of the
ellipses. In the 70s with phototypesetting, I think it was pretty
standard to use a period and three "en leaders" followed by a
breakable and paddable word space; an en leader consisted of
an en space plus a period (one character altogether). This was
also the character used to build a trace of dots across the
page, as in a price list or a table of contents. So this agrees
with the Australian example from Robert above.

The Chicago Manual prefers 3-to-the-em for spacing. Robert
Bringhurst (in The Elements of Typographic Style) calls that
spacing "thick spaces" and considers such a style to be "another
Victorian eccentricity". He seems to prefer the ellipsis
character built into the font he uses in his book, although he
cautions that different font families and different text sizes
might require a different treatment.

In any case, I don't think you want paddable or breakable word
spaces between the dots, since the three (or four) lose their
clarity if they're broken at the end of a line.

On a related topic: is anyone having a problem with the French
hyphenation dictionary? I can't get it to work with 1.20.1, even
though there's a note in the ChangeLog about fixing a typo in
tmac/ From what I can tell the only difference between
that file in 1.20.1 and the previous version is the removal of a
comment character before \patterns{. Is there something else I
should be checking? Does it have anything to do with utf-8 or

        -- Steve

Steve Izma
Home: 35 Locust St., Kitchener N2H 1W6 p:519-745-1313 FAX:519-579-9872
Work: Wilfrid Laurier University Press p:519-884-0710 ext. 6125
E-mail: address@hidden or address@hidden

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