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Re: address@hidden: Font Lock on-the-fly misfontification in C++]

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: address@hidden: Font Lock on-the-fly misfontification in C++]
Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2006 10:42:43 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden> writes:

> Morning, Richard!
> On Wed, Aug 02, 2006 at 05:20:12PM -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
>> For distinguishing the two versions I write "Emacs" and "XEmacs",
>> because the context shows we are talking about these two variants
>> of the original GNU Emacs.
> This leaves a difficulty when there is no context.  For example, you
> might find this in an overview of editors:
> (1)  "Most free editors do syntax highlighting.  In vim, ........  In
>      Emacs, syntax highlighting is usually called "font locking"."
> A bit lower down in the same article, there might be ....
> (2)  "In some editors you can also highlight a region of text explicitly.
>      In vim you do ......., in Emacs you can type M-o M-o."
>> In other contexts, there is no need to refer to the two variants but
>> there is a need to connect Emacs with the GNU system.  There I write
>> "GNU Emacs".
> In paragraph (1), it is clear that "Emacs" includes XEmacs.

Not at all.  It is clear to those knowing the editors, but they are
hardly the target readership.

> To substitute "Emacs and XEmacs" would make the sentence clumsy and
> less readable, and wouldn't be helpful to the target readership.

I can't say I agree here.  And you could also write "Emacs variants",
but "Emacs and XEmacs" is quite clearer and not at all clumsy.  After
all, jed and Microemacs, two Emacs-like editors, don't use that

> In paragraph (2), the context of bare "Emacs" having previously been
> set to "generic Emacs", clarity demands the substitution of "GNU
> Emacs".

But there is no point in an implicit "generic Emacs" context when one
is discussing Emacs and XEmacs as separate editors.  It is only
confusing the readers, with no actual gain.

> I believe "GNU Emacs" is used mainly for unambiguous identification
> rather than connecting it with the GNU system - much like "John of
> Gaunt" is used to clarify which John you're talking about rather
> than to associate him with the town of Gent in Belgium.
> The root of the problem is that XEmacs is neither identical with
> Emacs nor totally independent from it.  Until such time as XEmacs
> diverges completely from Emacs (another Boston tea party? ;-), or
> remerges with it, there will be no good solution to the problem.

Since XEmacs has diverged completely from Emacs, it is pointless to
try maintaining a language greyzone which has to be constantly
adjusted.  Keybindings, semantics, data structures (keymaps,
characters, integers, specifiers, toolbars, menubars, extents),
keybindings and so on _all_ have completely diverged.  The editors are
dissimilar enough that users accustomed to one of them will not put up
with the other interchangeably.  There is almost no person who will
say "I use Emacs on this computer, and XEmacs on that computer".

> How about using a mixture of judgement, good sense, and tact, taking
> each case on its merits?  :-(

It is no help to the reader if he has to secondguess the author and
the author's knowledge of the internals of both Emacs and XEmacs.  One
could make a weak case for using "Emacs" as a proper name and "an
Emacs" to signify the class of Emacs and XEmacs, but since there is
usually nothing else grouped in that class ever, there is little point
in doing so.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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