Slinky in hand: Weird quotes at end, and why they happened

From: Nicholas Bodley (
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 17:15:40 PST

You might like to fix up the quotes at the end of the text. They
might be Mac-specific; the leading quotes looks like the lowered
German double-comma style, and the closing quotes are not quotes, but
a 3/4 fraction! Use " for leading and trailing, or `` and '' (or ")
for the closing quotes; looks awful, but it's the best we can do
until Unicode becomes widespread. Btw, I like Macs.

The author's character set was not quite compatible with Latin-1 (The
Internet (HTML) standard for English and Western Euro. languages) or
Microsoft's Windows-1252, not that I think anything should be
compatible with the unique nonstandard code points in Windows-1252.

Sorry if I mystify people; the whole story is rather long. Point is
that computer text is stored and transferred as pure numbers; it's
only because those numbers are fed to the proper program that they
are interpreted as text. However, for the text to appear correctly,
the composer and the reader have to agree on what specific visible
letter, number, or other printable symbol corresponds to each number.
However, not all possible numbers are defined, and a few are defined
differently; these weird ones I'm squawking about are one such

In this case, typographically-good quotes that looked fine on the
author's screen were assigned to numbers (code points) that are not
standard. What I use is a de facto HTML standard (Latin-1, a.k.a. ISO
8859-1), but it lacks internationally-agreed-upon, typographically-
good quotes. What it does have are t.-g. quotes that are only usable
with compatible software that is not universally used, and sold by a
big company that has on more than one occasion done some memorably
nasty things.

Nicholas Bodley |@| Waltham, Mass.
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