[XeTeX] Whoever said quotation-marks are unimportant?

John Was john.was at ntlworld.com
Mon Jul 28 18:29:33 CEST 2008

Dear All

Actually censeo ceterum isn't right in Latin:  Ceterum is a prepositive and 
can't be tucked in after a verb, as for example autem could be (autem being 
a postpostive:  censeo autem but never autem censeo).  But it's correct to 
point out that the common idea that the verb always goes at the end of the 
sentence or clause in Latin is a misapprehension.

Not only was there no end-of-sentence punctuation in Greek and Latin, but 
there were not even spaces between the words:  everything was written in 
capitals unspaced, which is one reason (I suppose) why silent reading was 
such a rare phenomenon in the ancient world (apparently referred to in 
Aristophanes' Frogs - but significantly it is a god who is doing such an 
amazing thing, and then much later Augustine was seen as doing something 
amazing when he landed in England reading silently to himself when getting 
off the ship).  There is a letter from Cicero in which he tells his 
correspondent that he was entertaining friends when he received his 
correspondent's letter, and so went into another room to read it - because 
otherwise his friends would have known the contents as he spoke the words 

The accumulation of full stops is definitely undesirable in quotes within 
quotes within quotes - one is quite enough!  And indeed if a quoted sentence 
ends in a question mark or excamation mark most publishing houses would 
specify that there is no need for an additional full stop whatever the logic 
of the situation - there is already one there at the bottom of the 
punctuation mark.  Usually nowadays in English typesetting the first level 
of quotation is marked by single quotes, double only for quotes within 
quotes (then back to single for quotes within quotes within quotes).  That's 
comparatively modern, though - in the nineteenth century the preference was 
the opposite.

But the main  thing is that TeX is a very convenient tool for achieving 
whatever one decides is the correct punctuation in a given context.



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Wilfred van Rooijen" <wvanrooijen at yahoo.com>
To: "Unicode-based TeX for Mac OS X and other platforms" <xetex at tug.org>
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 3:23 PM
Subject: Re: [XeTeX] Whoever said quotation-marks are unimportant?

Hi all,

> As an argument against that many full stops, I'd point
> to the fact
> that there wasn't even such a thing as the full stop in
> the early days
> of written Latin (and other languages?), where they wrote
> in caps and
> knew when sentences ended by the placement of the verb.

Oww, my classically trained heart aches. I don't remember of Latin uses full 
stops on a normal basis, but the location of the verb in a Latin sentence 
(or Greek, for that matter) is pretty free, but with a preference to have 
the verb as the last word of the sentence. But especially in 
ACI-constructions the location of the infinitive can be anywhere:

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse

is just as valid as

Censeo ceterum esse Carthaginem delendam

but of course the first one is more aesthetically and rhetorically pleasing 
because of the alliteration. In Latin, the grammatic and syntactic relation 
between the words in the sentence is determined by the cases (nominativus, 
accusativus, ablativus, vocativus, etc). Upon reading the sentence, once you 
have seen the subject, object and verb, you can pretty much infer that the 
next nominativus indicates a new sentence.

In my Latin textbooks in high school there were full stops, commas and 
quotation marks in Seneca, Tacitus, Ovidius, and also in Homerus, Plato, 
Euripides etc but those may have been later additions. Never forget that the 
formal Latin one sees on buildings, temples and churches is a very formal 
form of the language, featuring more abbreviations than you and I know, 
because chiseling all those letters into marble is hard work. The Pantheon 
in Rome has:


meaning Marcus Agrippa, Lucii filius, consul tertium fecit (Marcus Agrippa, 
son of Lucius, built this when he was third-time consul).



> Obviously, that wouldn't work for English :) but I like
> to think of
> full stops as indicators of the end of sentences when
> it's otherwise
> not clear. In your case above "Good morning,
> Dave." is clearly a
> single unit so the full stop, while not incorrect
> logically, is a
> little redundant.
> The other reason is that we don't want to fill up the
> page with lots
> of little marks. It's a bit busy, typographically.
> Which is the
> primary reason I like to use single quote marks as much as
> possible;
> "`good morning'" is less intrusive than
> "``good morning''". The one
> exception is in ascii, where I can't get out of the
> habit of using
> double quotes.
> Any scheme anyone chooses to use should be consistent
> first, pleasing
> to them second, and "correct to the standards"
> third. In my opinion :)
> Will_______________________________________________
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