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Re: st: RE: apostrophes, quotation marks, left or right quotes?


From   Dirk Enzmann <dirk.enzmann@uni-hamburg.de>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   Re: st: RE: apostrophes, quotation marks, left or right quotes?
Date   Tue, 26 Feb 2008 13:18:49 +0100

Reply to:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/lwgate/STATALIST/archives/statalist.0802/date/article-1051.html

Nick,

your are correct in pointing to the difficulty that showing how the characters on the screen look like depends on the (screen) font used. But the fact that many people have difficulties using the single quotes correctly points to the necessity to improve the explanation.

To my mind the explanation should address the three problems mentioned in my previous mail. May I suggest a solution that considers/focuses on (1) the language for denoting the keys/signs, (2) a demonstration of the appearance of the signs, (3) a description on how to produce it with your keyboard? Let's try:

(1) To denote the signs "left" and "right" quotes makes sense from the perspective of reading command syntax or describing the function of the single quotes as starting and ending quotes. But it is not helpful for producing the signs with a keyboard because on a keyboard "left" and "right" quotes do not exist. Instead, there are accent keys, a key for single quotes (apostrophe), and a key for double quotes (quotation mark). Thus, don't use "left quote" and "right quote" if you refer to the keyboard. To explain in words which signs have to be used for left and right quotes, I suggest the following:

-------------------------------------------------------------------
A "left" quote is produced by the accent key that produces an accent starting top left ("accent grave" or backtick). A "right" quote is produced by the single quote key (apostrophe).
-------------------------------------------------------------------

(2) It is important to show how the signs look like. Because in printing often curved quotes are used that do not exist on keyboards, I suggest to use Svend Juuls advice because it is reproducible for everybody, supplemented by a demonstration of its appearance using Courier font:

-------------------------------------------------------------------
The appearance of the quotes printed often differs from how they look on your keyboard and screen. Try 'help quotes' to see how they look on the screen. Using Courier font, the word "shortcut" inclosed in "left" and "right" quotes looks like this: `shortcut' .
-------------------------------------------------------------------

(3) The manual is wrong in describing where to find the keys "on most keyboards": The description is correct only for the US keyboard, even the UK keyboard is different, let alone the 20 other keyboards shown at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout . As far as I could infer from this wikipedia article keyboards that allow to produce the accent grave ("left" quote) by a single stroke are rare. Naturally, the US and UK allows it, however, on most of the others it is located on a dead key (a dead key produces no output when it is pressed, but modifies the output of the next key pressed after it). On these keyboards, you produce it by pressing the "shift"-"dead key"-combination of the "accent grave"-key followed by pressing the space bar (rather laborious, but on some keyboards even this is impossible, see the Italian keyboard). Therefore, I suggest the following:

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Keyboard layouts differ. The only safe thing to say is that the "left" quote corresponds to the decimal ASCII code 96, whereas the "right" quote corresponds to the decimal ASCII code 39. On most keyboards the "left" quote is produced by pressing a dead key, meaning that nothing is produced until you hit the spacebar (on many US and UK keyboards you can simply press the upper left key).
-------------------------------------------------------------------

To sum it up, here my suggestion to explain how the quotes look like and how to produce them:

-------------------------------------------------------------------
It is important to distinguish two kinds of single quotes: starting or "left quotes" and ending or "right quotes". Single quotes are often printed as curved quotes. The appearance of quotes thus printed often differs from how they look on your keyboard and screen. Try 'help quotes' to see how they look on the screen. Using Courier font, the word "shortcut" inclosed in left and right quotes looks like this: `shortcut' . Keyboard layouts differ. The only safe thing to say is that the left quote corresponds to the decimal ASCII code 96, whereas the right quote corresponds to the decimal ASCII code 39. On most keyboards the left quote is produced by pressing a dead key, meaning that nothing is produced until you hit the spacebar (on many US and UK keyboards you can simply press the upper left key). A left quote is produced by pressing the key(-combination) that produces an accent starting top left ("accent grave" or backtick). A right quote is produced by pressing the single quote key (apostrophe).
-------------------------------------------------------------------

(Of course, when printing this explanation make sure to use Courier font for the example `shortcut'.)

HTH,
Dirk

P.S.: Sorry for using a.m. without thinking. I meant to abbreviate "above mentioned".

*************************************************
Dr. Dirk Enzmann
Institute of Criminal Sciences
Dept. of Criminology
Schlueterstr. 28
D-20146 Hamburg
Germany

phone: +49-(0)40-42838.7498 (office)
+49-(0)40-42838.4591 (Mrs Billon)
fax: +49-(0)40-42838.2344
email: dirk.enzmann@uni-hamburg.de
www:
http://www2.jura.uni-hamburg.de/instkrim/kriminologie/Mitarbeiter/Enzmann/Enzmann.html
*************************************************

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