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

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: Re: [groff] 03/09: tmac/an-old.tmac: Stop remapping ` and '.
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2020 14:16:03 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.12.2 (2019-09-21)

Hi Werner,

Werner LEMBERG wrote on Mon, Nov 02, 2020 at 01:50:36PM +0100:
> Ingo Schwarze wrote:
>> Werner LEMBERG wrote:

>>> 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.

That explanation seems plausible to me.

>> 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.

Yes, that was unfortunate.  I think Branden misunderstood it in the
same way; i'm not completely sure though.

> We will have to live with zillions of typographically bad-looking
> man pages that use `foo' for quotation.

That is admittedly true.  It is a less severe problem though than
the one caused by Branden's commit: this is merely looking somewhat
ugly, whereas Branden's commit causes incorrect rendering.

Besides, if people want nice quoting in running text of man(7)
pages, \(oq \(cq and \(lq \(rq can be readily used, using them
has no downside, and in man(7) code, it also doesn't look
unnatural because using (small amounts of) escape sequences is
already common in man(7) pages and hard to avoid; in contrast to
mdoc(7), of course.

>  Too bad that there aren't macros like
>   .Q foo      [curly single quotes]
>   .QQ foo .   [curly double quotes]
> (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.

I think that is not a coincidence.  The mdoc(7) macros were designed
to convey meaning, so "quote this" is a natural purpose for a macro.
The man(7) macros, by contrast, we designed for *physical* markup,
and in physical markup, there is no need for a quoting macro, you can
just put the character escape sequence for the quoting character you

That man(7) is more tedious to type is an unavoidable consequence
of being a lower-level language.


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