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Re: tbl(1) minor issues

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: Re: tbl(1) minor issues
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2022 08:47:55 -0500

At 2022-07-23T07:37:42-0500, Dave Kemper wrote:
> On 7/22/22, G. Branden Robinson <> wrote:
> > I disagree with this, because I find it awkward to put one complete
> > sentence as a parenthetical inside another.  I believe a sentence should
> > remain grammatical even if the parentheses are removed.
> As a middle-ground opinion from another punctuation tyrant, I'm
> generally OK with a parenthetical full sentence in the MIDDLE of a
> sentence (provided it scans smoothly, but that's a basic requirement
> of all writing).

Yes, it can read (speak) like a dashed aside in that case, but in that
event I'd personally go with em-dashes, 9 times out of 10, I think.

> Branden has already objected to such a construction on the grounds
> that it fails to parse when the parentheses are removed.  But saying a
> sentence still needs to parse with arbitrary punctuation removed
> strikes me as an absurdly high bar to clear: punctuation exists
> precisely to affect the parsing of words.

That's true, and I likely overstated my principle in haste.  I can try
to be a little more precise.  I think the English rules about where
independent clauses are required or forbidden are not susceptible to
relaxation by punctuation.  That's _still_ too general a claim, but it
will take me some time to find a way to articulate it well.  I haven't
exhaustively searched the space of possible English sentences.[1]

> And I can't see any reader getting tripped up by the construction
> above.

I take your point regarding the scope to which the parenthetical

> However, even Branden's more stringent requirement can be met by
> turning the parenthetical sentence into a subordinate clause:
> They can be specified in any lettercase (unlike in AT&T tbl, which
> accepted only options with all characters in the same lettercase) and
> must be separated by commas, spaces, or tabs.
> It's a couple words longer, but in my opinion more clearly structured,
> because the parenthetical appears immediately after the phrase it's
> modifying.

I have the following patch pending, and I'll be pushing very soon.  I
hope to hear back from Deri regarding my recent questions about URW font
detection and foundry-management gymnastics.

diff --git a/src/preproc/tbl/ b/src/preproc/tbl/
index e1bf59340..0455ea77b 100644
--- a/src/preproc/tbl/
+++ b/src/preproc/tbl/
@@ -189,17 +189,16 @@ token may specify region options,
 keywords that influence the interpretation or rendering of the region as
 a whole or all table entries within it indiscriminately.
-They can be specified in any lettercase and must be separated by commas,
+They can be specified in any lettercase
+(unlike AT&T
+.IR tbl , \" AT&T
+which accepted only options with all characters in the same case)
+and must be separated by commas,
 or tabs.
-.I tbl \" AT&T
-accepted only options with all characters in the same lettercase.)
-Some of these options require a parenthesized argument;
-those that do permit spaces and tabs between the option's name and the
-opening parenthesis.
+Those that require a parenthesized argument permit spaces and tabs
+between the option's name and the opening parenthesis.
 Options accumulate and cannot be unset within a region once declared;
 if an option that takes a parameter is repeated,


[1] If I did, I'd be here all week!  Tip your server.

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