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Re: [groff] [patch] modernize -T ascii rendering of opening single quote

From: Ralph Corderoy
Subject: Re: [groff] [patch] modernize -T ascii rendering of opening single quote
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2019 14:29:52 +0000

Hi Anthony,

> ` and ' are not directional quotes in ASCII output. They are grave
> accent and straight quote.

In ASCII, `' are both left/right quotes and grave/acute accents.

> This was common practice historically

Common practice historically, I was there for some of it, was to use `'
as left/right quotes, e.g. in ASCII text files intended to be
line-printed directly; no roff in sight.

> Drawing ` and ' symmetrically as if they were directional quotes
> happened in some places historically but was not universal

They were drawn symmetrically nearly universally as anything else would
render the normal use incorrectly.  DEC's VT 52 character ROM had, and
I've gone back to the ROM to check,

    ········ ········
    ···##··· ····##··
    ····#··· ····#···
    ·····#·· ···#····
    ········ ········
    ········ ········
    ········ ········
    ········ ········

Their VT 220 was the same apart from more blank rows.  The DEC VTs were
everywhere.  A main competitor was Lear Siegler.  I cut my teeth on
their lovely ADM-3A with its flip-top lid.  It did the same as DEC and
the ASCII table in its manual showed `' as left and right quotes;
neither was straight.  Wyse, Hazeltine, probably every manufacturer in
/etc/termcap rendered `' symmetrically.

> ASCII has no concept of 'left single quote,' as has been discussed
> thoroughly in this thread. In ASCII, ` is typically defined as a grave
> accent, not a left quote.

That's incorrect, as my quoting parts to Ingo earlier today showed.

> The "true reason" is that I see confusion from users who don't
> understand why their manpages show ` ' which are clearly unbalanced in
> any modern (yes, modern) terminal font.

Hopefully, it will prompt them to be curious about the history and
learn.  :-)

More important than `fixing' this IMO is having man pages that can be
input in an easy manner for simple things, e.g. `' in prose, and have
the output be good for the device used, i.e. ‘’.

Cheers, Ralph.

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