Reason for this kind of double quotation marks



  • Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 456
    edited September 2019
    At least for the Netherlands, the map is a little outdated I think. Different forms are allowed, but today we are most like England or Ireland, I'd say.

  • No, I’m talking about German publishers. The Swiss indeed use guillemets, too, but typically the other way around («…»), like the French.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 597
    edited September 2019
    As soon as you start looking at printed books, you’ll find that the predominant preference there is »…«.
    I thought that inside-out guillemets were used somewhere in the German-speaking world when I saw that map... and I see someone else knew that more exactly.
    Since typewriters can't really handle quotes well, I'm surprised that printed books wouldn't be the basis for a map such as this.
    — A type designer can decide to make rational (versus chirographic) quote marks. To me ideally where the opening ones are traditional (giving the reader their bearings) while the closing are vertically flipped (to avoid confusion with the apostrophe).
    — A typographer can elect to use guillemets instead.
    A typographer certainly can make such choices. And I am not intending criticism of those who do by noting this: most type designers, as either they want to make money from their efforts, or they want other attributes of their typefaces in which they are invested to attract attention and adoption, will tend to give people what they want, which is what they are used to, what is in general use, for any other aspects of their typefaces and fonts other than the ones in which they specifically intend to innovate.
    So, while it's certainly all right to ask type designers to consider innovations like this, I can't really blame them if action on issues like this will be... slow. English speakers don't find the fact that the same symbol is used for apostrophe and closing single quote to be a problem, as context almost always eliminates any chance of confusion.
    Come to think of it, if I were to believe it was important to eliminate the ambiguity, but I still wanted to conform to the reading habits of the English-speaking world, there is another option: simply place the apostrophe slightly lower, and the single and double quotes slightly higher, in the character cell.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 597
    edited September 2019
    And here is an image illustrating what I mean:

    Of course, one difficulty with this approach is that there might not be appropriate distinct code points in Unicode for all the characters involved.
    Having distinct characters to eliminate ambiguity completely, even if there is no confusion, is a good thing; after all, computer keyboards include the digit 1, even though using lowercase L (l) was good enough for typewriter users; this made it easier to program computers. Distinguishing between apostrophe and single quote would similarly help with automated handling of text.
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