# [texhax] Ref. Man. Bausum [was tabbing]

Uwe Lück uwe.lueck at web.de
Fri Sep 15 00:16:46 CEST 2006

At 15:36 14.09.06, Barbara Beeton wrote:

>     1. The TeXbook's description of \accent makes me guess
>     an aligning macro for which \accent is a hard-wired shorthand
>     -- but I can't decide from the TeXbook whether my guess is correct.
>
>the index to the texbook tells you at a glance
>that \accent is a primitive, not a (macro-based)
>hard-wired shorthand.  look up \accent in the
>index -- it's preceded by an *.  quote from the
>text at the top of the index:
>
>   Control sequence names that are preceded by an
>   asterisk (*) in this index are primitives of TeX;
>   i.e., they are built in.  It may be dangerous to
>   redefine them.
>
>"may be" should generally be considered an
>understatement.  the fact that something is a
>primitive also implies strongly that you can't
>alter its behavior directly.

I know very well about TeX primitives and the asterisk.
Some misunderstandings seem to lurk here.
Example: Consider a TeX version TeX- that agrees
with TeX let alone the fact that TeX- doesn't have
the primitive \gdef. TeX- then behaves like TeX
if you include \def\gdef{\global\def} in your macros.
This is why I consider \gdef a "hard-wired shorthand"
for \global\def.

In my example I asked for a macro for which
\accent is a "hard-wired shorthand" in the previous sense.

>
>http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/Articles/tb23-1/kluwer.pdf#search=%22TeX%20Reference%20Manual%22
>
>     claims:
>
>        The TeX Reference Manual is the first comprehensive
>        reference manual written by a programmer for programmers.
>
>this is not true.  tex by topic appeared much earlier,
>and is quite comprehensive.

I reached out for a "really comprehensive" manual --
as opposed to a "quite comprehensive" manual -- this is why
I have posted this indeed -- indeed -- indeed ! -- !! --- !!! ... ... ...
Got it? Got it?? Got it???

>and unfortunately, i found quite a few errors in bausum's
>book when i looked through it; i no longer have a copy
>to check, since the one i received was sent out for
>review.  i don't like to knock a publication that was
>written with good intentions, but i also believe that
>unwary readers should be aware of inaccuracies that can