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RE: Sentence spacing and nested quotes

From: Braden N. McDaniel <braden@shadow.net>
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 16:51:15 -0500
To: "Matthew Skala" <mskala@ansuz.sooke.bc.ca>
Cc: "Scott K. Laws" <scott@elvis.mu.org>, "style-list" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <007301be1b19$39198a20$01000080@bonezero>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthew Skala [mailto:mskala@ansuz.sooke.bc.ca]
> Sent: Saturday, November 28, 1998 4:25 PM
> To: braden@endoframe.com
> Cc: Scott K. Laws; style-list
> Subject: RE: Sentence spacing and nested quotes
>
>
> On Sat, 28 Nov 1998, Braden N. McDaniel wrote:
> > This is problematic because "sentence-ending" punctuation is
> not unique. A
> > period does not necessarily mark the end of a sentence. In
> English at least,
>
> When do you have a period *followed by whitespace* that doesn't mark the
> end of a sentence?

Easy, Mr. Scott K. Laws. An abbreviation.

>  I can think of one case for that, which is the
> ellipsis if you spell it ". . .".  I more often see people write ellipsis
> in ASCII files as "..." with no spaces, which would be unaffected by my
> suggestion.  Note, too, that I'm talking about an optional feature here:
> people who didn't want it or didn't understand it, wouldn't turn it on.
>
> I claim that enough people want extra space between sentences that it's
> worth supporting them in some way, and I don't think that that algorithm I
> described would guess incorrectly often enough to be a problem.

You have not described an algorithm.

>  (I agree
> that asking the user agent to do a grammatical analysis is out of the
> question.)  Authors who had unusual situations where they wanted extra
> inter-sentence spacing but also periods (or similar punctuation) followed
> by word spaces, could mark up those exceptional periods.  Note, too, that
> word processors like Word have an option to do almost exactly what I
> described, forcing two spaces after every period that is followed by space
> at all.  Lots of people use those options without appearing to
> suffer for it.

Word processors like Word do grammatical analysis and have dictionaries of
abbreviations that they can use to infer the end of a sentence. And if
you've ever heavily used these kinds of options, you know that they are
imperfect.

It is unreasonable to expect this kind of analysis from a Web browser.

> The optional feature makes it possible for the author of a document to
> choose how to handle this kind of case; without it or something like it
> there is NO clean way to get extra space, and I don't see how CSS can be
> taken seriously as a format-description language when it can't describe
> such an ordinary format.  What am I supposed to do instead?  Write
> "&nbsp;" after every sentence?  Just grin and bear the fact that my
> sentences are too close together?  That hardly seems in the spirit of what
> CSS is supposed to be about.

Use XML. Use a document editor with the same kind of AI as Word that can
automatically mark up each sentence for you as you type it. Use CSS to apply
whatever spacing you like between sentences.

This is not a CSS deficiency.

> It sounds like you're saying that my proposal is capable of generating
> incorrect formatting.  That's possibly true, but CSS without it or
> something like it is *incapable* of generating correct formatting.

Wrong. This is a markup issue, not a style language issue. Given an
appropriately capable markup language, CSS is quite capable of doing what
you describe.

Braden
Received on Saturday, 28 November 1998 16:50:55 GMT

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