Apostrophes in non-ASCII names (was: A proposed solution for descriptions)

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Thu Jun 29 23:11:55 CEST 2006

At 15:02 +0100 2006-06-29, Caoimhin O Donnaile wrote:

>  > Yes, it will. U+2019 *is* the preferred character for the apostrophe
>>  used for contraction and posession. Let me quote the relevant sections
>>       [...]
>>    Punctuation Apostrophe.
>>    U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK is preferred where the character
>>    is to represent a punctuation mark, as for contractions: "We've been
>>    here before."
>>       [...]
>>  The semantics of U+2019 are therefore context-dependent. For example, if
>>  surrounded by letters or digits on both sides, it behaves as an in-text
>>  punctuation character and does not separate words or lines.
>I am quite shocked to learn this.  Ciaran is not alone.  It's not at
>all what I would have expected from Unicode.  But if that's the
>way it is...

I can't imagine why you would be shocked. The vertical apostrophe was 
NEVER the abbreviation character and it was NEVER disunified from the 
right single quotation mark.. until the invention of the typewriter, 
which didn't have enough keys for curly single and double quotes, 
when the straight apostrophe and quotation mark were invented. These 
were taken up into ASCII and of course they are still on our 
keyboards. They are not real characters, in an historic sense, and 
while they are useful for programming, their use ought to be avoided.

Make no mistake: in centuries of typesetting, the right single quote 
was used as a quotation mark when single quotes were used to indicate 
quotations, and the same character was used for the apostrophe. In 
English, Irish, and Scottish Gaelic too.

>It looks as if I should avoid using single quotation marks to quote
>text in the future, but rather stick to double quotation marks.

It is always a good idea to use double quotes for quotations in Irish 
and Scottish Gaelic, because there is a greater visual distinction 
that way between them and the mark of elision. But the character for 
that apostrophe and the single quote is the same. Unicode is right in 
its recommendation.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com

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