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

From: John Gardner
Subject: Re: [groff] [patch] modernize -T ascii rendering of opening single quote
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2019 21:22:42 +1100

If my opinion matters in this discussion, then I'm tentatively opposed to
this change. Reasons:
— Folks limited to ASCII environments may be using a screen font with more
suitable-looking quotes (e.g., Gallant)
— Regression tests that assert man(1) output will break on systems with a
modern groff(1) installed
— We're applying polish to a +50-year old documentation system whose
biggest feature is *remaining unchanged.*

However, I won't protest or lose sleep if this goes through. :-)

*> The point is sane defaults, *not* customization.*

Man, you would REALLY hate Emacs... ;-)

On Thu, 21 Feb 2019 at 21:01, Jeff Conrad <address@hidden> wrote:

> On Wednesday, February 20, 2019 9:07 PM, G. Branden Robinson wrote:
> >
> > The Savannah ticket[1] says:
> >
> > rendering single quotes like `this' was considered an anachronism from
> > the mechanical typewriter era."
> I never did this with a mechanical (or electric) typewriter ...
> The Chicago Manual of Style, 13th ed., says “a single quotation mark,
> however, should not be used to indicate an accent, because it could be
> either a grave or an acute accent” (2.14, p. 42)—so I guess it assumed
> typewriter single quotes aren’t symmetrical.
> > 1.  I would not mess with the ASCII device because `this' is sometimes a
> > reasonable way to get symmetric quotes on an _actual_ ASCII output
> > device.
> We still have the question about what is (or was) a Genuine ASCII™
> device, since different manufacturers had different implementations.  I
> must admit that, after consulting an HP 2392 manual, I see that it used
> the HP Roman 8 character set, so I probably had a device that displayed
> symmetrical left and right quotes until at least the late 1980s.
> > Knuth and the *roff progenitors decided on DWIM semantics for ` and ',
> > building heavily on that ambiguity.  Cf. `foo' and `bar', \('a and
> > \'a, speaking in *roff first and then TeX, respectively, in each pair.
> This leaves the impression that the devices Knuth and Kernighan and
> their associates rendered symmetrical left and right quotes.  Looking at
> The Unix Programming Environment (1984), Chapter 9, Document
> Preparation, it’s also apparent that double quotes were literal
> renderings of “``word''” (‘‘word’’), printed on a Mergenthaler Linotron
> 202.  The same impression obtains from The C Programming Language
> (1978), Preface; this was printed on a Graphic Systems (C/A/T?)
> phototypesetter.
> I notice that the 13th ed. of the Chicago Manual of Style also seems to
> use adjacent single quotes for double quotes; the 17th ed. uses true
> doubles. Things change ...
> But is this literal or just markup?  For the AT&T folks, perhaps the
> former.  With TeX, “``word''” gets mapped to “word”.  All I can say is
> that it’s a lot easier to type (and read) “``word''” than
> “\(lqword\(rq”.  I wish roff did the same thing (I still often use the
> “traditional” markup and do the conversion with a front-end script).
> > 2.  I _would_ change the latin1 device because there is no rational
> > defense of 0x60 ` as an opening quote in Latin-1 (a.k.a. ISO 8859-1).
> > In Latin-1 (and I think all the other ISO Latin alphabets, including
> > ISO 8859-15), 0x60 is the GRAVE ACCENT and is never[4] mirror-symmetric
> > with 0x27 ' APOSTROPHE but is instead mirror-symmetric with 0xB4 ´ ACUTE
> Hard to disagree with this; as it stands, it seems like it’s always been
> wrong, because I don’t think ISO 8859-1 or ECMA 6 ever provided options
> ECMA 6 did speak of using APOSTOPHE to simulate an acute accent, but
> the graphic shown in the 1985 and 1991 versions is vertical (GRAVE
> ACCENT is sloping upward to the left).
> > On truly ASCII output devices, 0x60 GRAVE ACCENT _might_ be a
> > directional single quotation mark that pairs with 0x27; it therefore
> > makes sense to map \[oq] to 0x60.
> But the operative word is _might_, so you’ve got to ask yourself one
> question: Do I feel lucky?
> More practically, how many users are likely to get crummy output on a
> Genuine ASCII™ device if the change is made versus how many are getting
> crummy output with things as they stand?  No question that devutf8 is
> the preferred way to go, but it’s not always an option for everyone.
> > On a Latin-1, Windows-1252, or Unicode device, the foregoing WILL NOT
> > be true.  Latin-1 lacks directional quotation marks altogether, and the
> > other two encodings have dedicated code points for them, respecting 0x60
> > in its sole role as a spacing grave accent diacritic.  On none of these
> > will 0x27 APOSTROPHE be a copy of 0xB4 ACUTE ACCENT.
> This raises another question: why not a devcp1252?  Many browsers treat
> it as a de facto superset of ISO 8859-1, but capriciously adding
> characters from the C1 area to devlatin1 is probably a bad idea.
> In all the excitement here, I created such a device and it works fine.
> I run a Windows environment that has some issues with UTF-8, and this
> allows reasonable rendering of most characters, including the infamous
> use of an en dash for a minus sign because MS apparently didn’t consider
> the latter important.
> I don’t know if this works with fonts on *nix machines.
> Jeff Conrad

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