[Spellyans] Rules for the apostrophe

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed May 19 11:02:39 BST 2010

On 18 May 2010, at 22:56, Eddie Climo wrote:

> The answer to this imagined conundrum is actually quite simple, at least for ordinary writing: go to the Preferences of your word processor or text editor and switch OFF the ludicrously misnamed 'Smart' Quotes (they aren't really so 'Smart' after all).

Bollocks. That is *entirely* unrealistic.

Quotation marks, whether in English, Cornish, Irish, or any other language, are high-frequency characters. Keyboards offer the dumb apostrophe ' and the dumb quote " and lots of good word-processing software (and higher-end typesetting software) quite correctly transforms entered ' and " into 6 or 66 or 9 or 99 according to context. 

It is wrong-headed to suggest that people should turn off smart quotes. That might avoid the problem of initial apostrophes, but it does nothing to improve Cornish typography. In fact, it would *ruin* Cornish typography, because there would be nothing but dumb quotes in Cornish publications. 

Bad idea.

The right thing to do with regard to the problem of initial apostrophe is to formulate simple rules which do away with the problem. The rule "do not have a space before or after an apostrophe" is such a rule.

> For those who are typesetting Cornish text (rather than just text chatting or emailing their friends (or unfriends) on the Web, the answer is even simpler: if you can't handle the various types of quotes, then you have no business trying to typeset Cornish. Time to go back to theTutorials and review Quote Marks 101, eh?!

In a text message for instance nothing more than a dumb quote is expected or probably even possible. And there is nothing wrong with that. 

I can only assume from your tone that you are just going for the laugh, though, Eddie. Amusing as it might be, it hasn't addressed the problem satisfactorily.

The rules I proposed yesterday do.

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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