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Re: [css4-text] 'text-autospace' and French guillemets

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 12:32:09 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0408091212510.5792@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Mon, 9 Aug 2004, fantasai wrote:

> It's a French thin space, which is, IIRC, of a slightly different size than
> the Unicode thin space. 1/5 or 1/6 of an em, I forget which.

Unicode defines THIN SPACE as having the width of "a fifth of an em (or
sometimes a sixth)", which is somewhat ambiguous - is it a fixed width
space or not, and who fixes it? But the French thin space, espace fine
insÚcable, looks narrower to me, typically about 0.1em. I'm sure you can
find lots of strong authoratative definitions for it in French ortho- and
typography, all different. :-) For example,
http://www.mail-archive.com/unicode@unicode.org/msg22838.html
gives the impression that the "French thin space" is 1/8 em
(i.e., 0.125em).

At
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/developers/fdsspec/punc.htmhttp://www.microsoft.com/typography/developers/fdsspec/punc.htm
we can read the Microsoft typography experts' view on this:

"Thin space U+2009 - Standard setting is 1/5 of the em space. 410 units in
a 2048 unit per em font. This should be language dependent. The standard
language dependent setting for French is 1/8 of the em space. 256 units in
a 2048 unit per em font.
Note : When traditionally typesetting the French language a word space is
inserted before or after several punctuation characters. These characters
are colon, semi colon, question, exclamation, right guillemets, and left
guillemets. Commonly the preferred word space used is a thin space of 1/8
the em. Some French typographers prefer to use a larger space character of
1/4 the em with the colon and some other punctuation characters. OpenType
supports character substitution and language dependant variants."

In theory, a browser could interpret thin space characters so that when
the text's declared language is French (e.g., lang="fr" or equivalent
applies), the width is set to 0.125em. But I don't think it's realistic to
expect such behavior.

ObCSS: If it were possible to use a selector that matches each occurrence
of a given character (say ::char(\2009)), then it would be straightforward
to write a rule that suggests a particular width for a character like the
thin space.

-- 
Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Monday, 9 August 2004 09:32:13 GMT

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