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Re: [groff] 03/09: tmac/an-old.tmac: Stop remapping ` and '.

From: Werner LEMBERG
Subject: Re: [groff] 03/09: tmac/an-old.tmac: Stop remapping ` and '.
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 2020 13:50:36 +0100 (CET)

>> To summarize: It seems that there is only a single platform left
>> today that by default uses a bitmap font for terminals with
>> symmetric ` and ' characters.  This sort-of proves my point,
>> doesn't it?
> What matters is that large numbers of manual pages use unescaped '
> and ` to represent plain ASCII ' and ` for programming language
> syntax documentation - because that has been supported in manual
> pages for more than a decade, because authors have become used to
> it, and because it seems likely that before 2008, not many people
> ever considered non-ASCII output of manual pages.

This I fully understand – I think this is also the main reason that
today's fonts provide asymmetric glyphs to improve the legibility for
these cases.

> Admittedly, Jan could have chosen a less misleading example.  From
> the context of his mail, it appeared that he intended `that' as
> "ASCII backtick quote apostophe-quote"

Mhmm, for me it looked like TeX-style quotation marks.  We will have
to live with zillions of typographically bad-looking man pages that
use `foo' for quotation.  Too bad that there aren't macros like

  .Q foo     →  ‘foo’
  .QQ foo .  →  “foo.”

(together with language-specific localizations), which could improve
quoting, since using the 'official' man-strings '\*(lq' and '\*(rq' is
soo tedious to type.  In this respect mdoc is clearly better.

> (even though that is ungrammatical in most programming languages i'm
> aware of), not as "that in single quotes".

I know of a single programming language, namely M4, that actually uses
` and ' for quoting strings (and most applications like autoconf that
use it immediately change the quote characters to [ and ] or something

Maybe it's worth to add some background information (to groff_man(7)
and/or groff's info manual) w.r.t. quoting characters, ASCII
backticks, and recent fonts.


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