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

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: Re: [groff] [patch] modernize -T ascii rendering of opening single quote
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2019 16:23:20 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.8.0 (2017-02-23)

Hi Doug,

Doug McIlroy wrote on Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 05:01:26PM -0500:
> Someone wrote:

>> people aren't aware that their manpage formatter is
>> catering to a particular font style that is no longer in 
>> common use. They just see that man(1) outputs "weird quotes."

> As man pages are now, one will see weird quotes regardless
> of how \(oq is rendered.
> I checked /usr/share/man1/[a-c]* in Fedora Linux--

When trying to judge the overall quality of manual pages, avoid
sampling data from any Linux system.  That way, you would only
reproduce the old finding that manual pages on Linux tend to be
of moderate quality at best.  Instead, to understand which quality
can be achieved in manual pages, look at BSD systems (note, my
point here is *not* that "BSD is better than Linux"; instead, i'm
talking about one very specific aspect).  The best sample available
is almost certainly the OpenBSD base system.

   $ grep -RF Sq /usr/share/man | wc -l
   $ grep -R '\\[[(]oq' /usr/share/man | wc -l
   $ grep -R '`' /usr/share/man/man2 | grep -v "``AS IS''" | wc -l
   $ grep -R '`' /usr/share/man/man4 | grep -v "``AS IS''" | wc -l

(The two example directories were selected because they do not contain
third-party manual pages of GNU origin.)

The above numbers mean that a carefully maintained real-world corpus
is likely to get close to using \(oq almost consistently (remember
that .Sq is using \(oq).

> about a 10%
> sample of man1. Only 2 out of 328 pages contained \(oq or \[oq].
> By contrast, 80 pages contained ` (0x60) used as a left quote, 
> usually paired with ' (0x27) but (surprisingly) sometimes with \(aq.

Sure.  It is old news that manual pages written in the man(7)
language are often of dubious quality.

> Although it might help to render \(oq as ' on man pages,
> it would be wrong to render 0x60 that way, lest examples
> in which the distinction matters be mutilated.

Very true.


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