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[bug #58500] default value for second parameter to .ss should follow mod
[bug #58500] default value for second parameter to .ss should follow modern typographic convention
Wed, 8 Jul 2020 07:21:28 -0400 (EDT)
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Follow-up Comment #6, bug #58500 (project groff):
Today's episode: boring into the Boringest Conspiracy Ever
[comment #4 comment #4:]
> it doesn't matter if Russell Harper tells us that 99% of all literature
> published since 2000 by the University of Chicago Press follows the single
> intersentence-space rule if a representative sample can be taken of those
> publications and a statistically significant different proportion turns up.
> And that sort of empirical measurement is what I don't see in these
True. We're taking a lot of authorities at their word because we don't have
an independent commission, perhaps a branch of the the Department of the
Interior, whose mission includes taking typographical measurements across
publishers and over time. We lack chart-filled reports with titles like
Practices In Kerning: 1970-2000.
I'm gathering that your response to this dearth of data is to throw our hands
in the air, declare "All is unknowable!," and either wait for typography's
Robert Mueller to issue his report, or dive into the field and gather the data
My proposal is simpler: let's give the authorities the benefit of the doubt
until data emerges to call their authority into question.
If someone wants to claim there is a discrepancy between style-manual edicts
and practices by publishers claiming to follow such style manuals, the burden
of proof pretty much has to be on the person making that claim.
And I don't think accepting the authorities' statements at face value is going
that far out on a limb. Forget careful measurements for a moment: just _look_
at some modern examples of professionally typeset works (i.e., not the garbage
that Word or the web produces). You'll be hard-pressed to find examples with
discernible wider sentence spacing. Not even in _The New Yorker_, known for
its idiösyncratic style guide.
Thus, even if there is some additional sentence spacing that's not easily
visible to the naked eye, it's at levels on par with ".ss 12 3" or ".ss 12 4".
Groff's default, ".ss 12 12", is grossly out of step with that.
So we have authorities telling us that word spaces and sentence spaces should
be the same, and we have a corpus of works published in the past 75 years,
where, by gum, they all pretty much look the same. Ockham's razor strongly
suggests that using normal word spaces between sentences is today's industry
standard, and has been for decades.
While we're waiting for concrete data, groff has to have _some_ default for
sentence spacing. I submit that the most sensible one is the one that pretty
much every modern authority agrees on. If and when data surfaces that shows
these authorities to be widely ignored, the question should absolutely be
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