2006-03-22

Typographical variety

  1. The Polish acute accent is shorter and stubbier than the Western one.
  2. French likes to put spaces in front of certain terminal punctuations, notably semicolon and colon, and also inside guillemets.
  3. Quotation marks have at least six flavors in Europe alone:
    • 6-quotes ... 9-quotes (English, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Turkish)
    • 9-quotes ... 9-quotes (Scandinavian languages)
    • low-9-quotes ... 6-quotes (German, Czech, Slovak)
    • low-9-quotes ... 9-quotes (Hungarian, Polish)
    • guillemets pointing in (Slovene, German sometimes)
    • guillemets pointing out (French, Greek, Russian)
  4. Some languages like initial dashes for dialogue, some don't.
  5. French c with cedilla can be written with a detached comma below, but not so in Portuguese or Catalan. Turkish insists on s with cedilla, Romanian on s with a comma below for their respective sh-sounds. (The story for Gagauz, which is a Turkic language spoken in Romania, is still uncertain.)
  6. Inverted punctuation marks are unique to Spanish.
  7. Lojban uses dots at the beginnings of words. :-)

3 comments:

Aristotle said...

To my knowledge, for typographical correctness, the spaces next to punctuation in French should not be a full space. I’m not sure whether they should be a thin space, punctuation space, or some other of the available choices, but I’m pretty sure full spaces were only adopted for the same reason that straight quotes are used in English: typewriters and, initially, computers did not offer enough typographical capabilities to typeset correctly.

For a very similar reason, typographically conscious writers of German use guillemets on the internet. In many fonts (such as Verdana), the 6-quotes are straight and point northwest, instead of being curled and pointing northeast. This makes them look odd when used as trailing 6-quotes, whereas guillemets are shaped properly in all fonts.

Chinacowboy said...

In Finnish, an older variety of quoting is to use guillemets pointing to the right both at the start and end of the quote.

Anonymous said...

The official French space between punctuation is a quarter em.