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Re: Whitespace, punctuation and :first-letter

From: Peter Moulder <peter.moulder@monash.edu>
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 2010 23:27:07 +1100
To: www-style list <www-style@w3.org>
Message-id: <20101007122707.GA15918@bowman.infotech.monash.edu.au>
On Thu, Oct 07, 2010 at 11:08:39AM +0200, Simon Montagu wrote:
> ...
> |':first-letter' applies if the first letter is a letter or a digit
> |(i.e. characters defined in Unicode in the "uppercase" (Lu),
> |"lowercase" (Ll), "titlecase" (Lt) and "other" (Lo) letter classes and
> |the "decimal digit" (Nd), "letter" (Nl) and "other" (No) number
> |classes).
> At the time, I was in two minds about the first issue. Quoting myself again:
> >This is tricky because in a case like:
> >
> > <p>" This is a quotation "</p>
> >
> > it seems reasonable for :first-letter to apply to '" T', but in a
> > case like
> >
> > <p>"*" is an asterisk</p>
> >
> > it doesn't seem so reasonable for :first-letter to apply to '"*" i'.

Heh, I don't suppose there's any interest in trying to distinguish between
those two based on the case of the letter, is there?  (Won't help for scripts
without case distinctions, of course.)

Just a thought -- a joke as much as anything.

In case anyone's wondering, it looks as though UAX-14 (line-breaking
opportunities) won't distinguish the above two cases, even if the closing ‘"’
were replaced with ‘”’ or ‘’’.  Even if it did, I suspect it would do the
wrong thing for ‘— This quotation style’.

Are there really any book chapters or magazine articles where the first word
consists entirely of punctuation, followed on the same line by a letter, as in
the ‘"*" is an asterisk’ example ?  In the sort of situations where I'd expect
first-letter styling to be used, I wouldn't expect that sort of example to be

While we're discussing first-letter and punctuation, I note that the spec
currently says to include not just leading but also following punctuation,
which would include the apostrophe in "I'm" or French "C'est" or "L'...".
Those French examples in particular would be very common ways for an article or
chapter to begin (i.e. situations where one might expect :first-letter to be
used), and the one print publication I found just now that uses first-letter
styling (Le Monde) did not include the apostrophe in its first-letter styling
(in either "C'est" or "L'...").

A single issue of a single publication from a single language isn't much of a
basis for changing the spec on this point, but it's at least enough reason to
be on the look-out for other print examples where first-letter styling is used
and the first letter is followed by punctuation.  Something to look out for
when next reading a newspaper or magazine (or books in some cases).

Received on Thursday, 7 October 2010 12:27:38 UTC

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