[Spellyans] Rules for the apostrophe

Eddie Climo eddie_climo at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Jun 5 19:27:05 IST 2010


'Smart' quotes: some further thoughts.

Let us recall the small problem mentioned recently of words beginning  
with an apostrophe, and one's software automatically substituting a  
'6' quote mark for the correct '9' one.

It was suggested that we add yet another class of diacritic to the  
already over-large set in KS, one which might be dubbed the 'dum- 
laut', as it's intended for those who are too ignorant to know how to  
get their software to display what it should (but yet are of  
sufficiently refined typographical sensibility that they're appalled  
by the punctuational solecism they're committing!)

These (numerous) dissatisfied souls, we were told, would find  
themselves typing 6gan, 6gas and 6ga instead of 9gan, 9gas, 9ga. The  
proposed 'solution' was to apply the 'dum-laut' so they'd type gàn,  
gàs, gà.

Alas, these accentomaniacs in their overweeing diacritophilia forgot  
to consider one small problem: the 'dumb-laut' is being forced to do 3  
jobs all at the same time:
	— to show a missing '9' apostrophe,
	— and to indicate an irregular short vowel,
	— to keep LC users happy who (allegedly) don't want any sort of  
apostrophe at all.

The problem comes when you have a word with both:
	— a leading '9' apostrophe
	— and a predictable long vowel (where no diacritic is used in KS).

Example of this include:
	— 9vas (contraction of < a vas > )
	— 9ves ( contraction of < a-ves > )

Concoctions like *vàs and •vès give the wrong pronunciation, while  
*vâs and *vês are incorrect.

No, the 'dum-laut' offers no help with cases such as these, and  
therefore should be discarded as a flawed idea. Instead, there is a  
much simpler solution:

1. For the typographically insensitive IT-illiterate, there's no  
problem so do nothing.
2. For the typographically sensitive IT-illiterate, switch off smart  
quotes altogether.
3. For the typographically sensitive IT-literate (including, one  
hopes, authors and publishers), learn the keyboard shortcut for the  
correct apostrophe. On the Mac, it's <shift><alt>< ] >, and it can't  
be much more difficult on Windows or Unix computers.
4. For the conjectural apostrophobic LC  users, let us encourage them  
to learn to love their inner apostrophile.

But no more bluddy diacritics. Please!


Eddie Foirbeis Climo
- -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- -
Dres ethom akennow byner re bons lyeshes
Accenti non multiplicandi praeter necessitatem

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