[tex-k] A 215 line -15

Karl Berry karl at freefriends.org
Mon Jun 14 23:21:02 CEST 2021

Hi Wolfgang - two months behind and counting, but anyway ...

    Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2021 15:53:33 +0200
    From: Wolfgang Helbig <helbig at mailbox.org>
    Subject: [tex-k] A 215 line -15

    Replace "alphabetic constant" by "character constant".
    The left quote works on all characters, not just alphabetic characters.
Yes, but the term "alphabetic constant" is otherwise used pervasively.

Also, it does not seem to me that "character constant" would be clearer
to readers, even though it is technically more correct. "Character
constant" is a term in programming languages, as you know, and it's just
misleading to think about TeX's ` feature like that.

    Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2021 16:42:43 +0200
    From: Wolfgang Helbig <helbig at mailbox.org>
    Subject: Re: [tex-k] A 215 line -15

    on B113 it says ``nonalphabetic character, like `\/''', so 'character' 
    and 'alphabetic character' seem to differ.

Knuth wrote "nonalphabetic character" once, in the implementation, to
emphasize what was going on in the program at that point. I don't see
that as a strong argument to change a dozen cases of "alphabetic
constant" throughout A and B. Especially since he never (as far as I
could grep) says "nonalphabetic constant". --best, karl.

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