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Re: [BUG] groff: inconsistent behavior of " to separate arguments

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: Re: [BUG] groff: inconsistent behavior of " to separate arguments
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2022 04:04:42 +1100
User-agent: NeoMutt/20180716

At 2022-03-20T10:48:56+0100, Ingo Schwarze wrote:
> > When a double-quoted word is not space-separated from an adjacent
> > word, it's not considered a different argument _except_ if if is the
> > first argument.
> That description is inaccurate.  It has nothing to do with whether
> or not it is the first argument.

Right.  Ralph was probably thinking of `ds`.

> > Could you please improve the documentation regarding '"'?
> > I've also seen """ to mean \(dq in some manual pages.
> That seems like bad style to me.  If you really want to use the
> quoted argument syntax to provide an argument containing nothing
> but a single quote, than that argument should better be written
> as four quotes (""""), not three.

It'll work at the end of the input line, e.g., as the lone argument.

> Then again, i believe \(dq is more readable than """" to the average
> reader.

I just checked, and in DWB 1.0 (1984), 'aq' and 'dq' special character
names are not defined for any of the supported devices: Autologic APS-5,
Imagen Imprint-10, and Xerox 9700.  This is generationally the closest
thing to the first edition of "Kernighan troff" (he dislikes the term
"ditroff"[1]) that I have source for.

dpost had not yet appeared, or at least wasn't in this distribution.

As far as I know, groff innovated these character definitions, and my
hat's off to James Clark for doing so.  Lacking them for so long strikes
me as...blinkered.

Because I went to the trouble of looking this up, here's some
quote-related *roff special character history.

Gunnar Ritter added 'dq' to Heirloom Doctools troff (descended from DWB
3.3, apparently) in the [20]060813 release, within a year of initiating
the project.  The pseudonymous "n-t-roff" finally added 'aq' (and 'oq',
'cq', 'lq', and 'rq') on 10 December 2014.

Neatroff added 'dq', 'lq' and 'rq' to neatmkfn (a font description
generator for neatroff) on 2014-05-05, and the other three on
2015-01-15, I guess taking a cue from Heirloom.



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