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Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

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Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Slava » Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:00 am

Some time ago, on Slate.com, Farhad Manjoo wrote an idiotic diatribe on how two spaces after a period was "totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong." As you might already have gathered, I am completely and utterly against such linguistic demagoguery.

Here is a recent column from The Economist on this topic.

Let's face it; is this anything anyone should ever give a fig about? It's not going to kill anyone, so why care? Even knowing that this site will strip them from my posts, I continue to put two spaces after a full stop. Personally, I find it easier to read, but then I'm not 13 anymore.

If someone is going to spout off, wouldn't it be better if it were about real grammar issues? Lie/Lay, Penultimate, It/It's?

Sad, but there are even some out there that believe we should do away with the apostrophe. Everyone knows what is meant, after all. :evil:
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:04 am

On my Microsoft word processor I usually write in 12 point Times New Roman. I find that a double space after a period enhances readability. For some fonts, there is nothing that will enhance readability. The font that we type when we are entering a comment on the Agora seems good with or without a double space. The font the comment appears on when submitted seems to be okay with its one space. The font used on the comments as they appear does have problems. Ill looks good in the font we type in, but one cannot tell the difference between the (I) and the (el) in the gothic font used for displaying the comments. One has to guess.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby gailr » Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:33 pm

The rule on two spaces is just an esthetic guideline. Now that mono-spaced typewriters are well in the past, for computer-savvy readers I prefer a single space to separate sentences, to avoid rivers of white running down the page.

However, if sending an email with specifications or price quotes, I tend to put two spaces after periods to help the recipient *read* the information, especially when I need them to choose between options or clarify ambiguous requests in their email. Those extra spaces seem to help separate ideas enough that they process and respond, without my having to resort to one-sentence, single-line "paragraphs".

I also tend to put two spaces after an italicized word, purely for esthetic reasons and especially on fora which allow it, as the board font often causes the italicized word to lean right into its unitalicized neighbor. That lessens the impact of the emphasis and just looks bad, in my opinion.

Pedantic pronouncements about right and wrong spaces ignore that the reasons for those spaces are both practical and esthetic -- to help reading comprehension. When type is set professionally, a good designer corrects the default kerning between an adjacent W and A, for example, to keep them looking like a single word. Similar adjustments are made to justified text to improve legibility; if it's done well, few readers will notice. If the spacing between letters, words, or sentences calls attention to itself, one hopes the designer is intentionally using this to effect (remember the dramatically wide letter spacing so popular on posters and ads in the 80s?).
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:49 pm

Great response, Gail.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:51 pm

When I was 10 or 12 years old, my parents gave me a small portable typewriter with the letters in different colors representing which finger should go where. Unfortunately, these seem to be no longer available, as I searched diligently for them for both my children and grandchildren. Nevertheless, I was self-taught, or type writer taught, as a typist. No one told me to leave two spaces after a period. Therefore I always left only one. I was an adult before anyone called it to my attention.

By habit, therefore, I continue to use one. It doesn't really matter to me, and I agree with Slava that there are much more important things to write articles about. However, it doesn't hurt now and then to reconsider the trivia lest we become too habitual. The examined the writing is worth writing.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:30 am

I took typing in high school and have benefited mightily from that decision ever since. I was taught that you always put one space after commas and other punctuation marks except periods, after which you put two. That was typing. I'm not sure that the rule carried over into printing and, since we type the printed word, we might be constrained to follow the rules of print.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:13 am

Since most printing is "justified", double spaces don't seem to matter much. According to many experts, justified text with the right and left margins the same on every line is not as readable as left justified or ragged right. For ridiculous examples of justified text, see narrow newspaper columns.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby gailr » Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:38 pm

XKCD weighs in on the debate.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Slava » Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:09 am

"Line break after every sentence?!!!" What, are we all supposed to write like pop journalists now? Phoo! One sentence paragraphs? I do not like them, Sam I am! Not even on the Beeb. :evil:
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:41 am

Slava: Penultimate vs. ultimate is not about grammar. it is about word definition. If penultimate comes, can ultimate be far behind? Penultimate sounds so final that some take it for ultimate. Will they never learn?
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:10 pm

Not if they want to pass Hebrew which may have an accent on the antepenultimate syllable.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:23 am

Prefix strings before ultimate make a situation similar to that of the hemidemisemiquaver. There is some disagreement on the sequence of prefixes, just as I am wont to write hemisemidemiquaver. One ‘authority” says the order is
ultimate - penultimate - prepenultimate – anteprepenultimate.
Another “authority” says it is
ultimate - penultimate - antepenultimate - preantepenultimate.

There is a neat phrase similar to ultimate in “Ultima Thule”. It was thought to be the fartherest north one could travel. Thule Airforce Base, near the north shore of Greenland was named for this idea. But then, somebody went to the North Pole.
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Re: Rules vs. Worthless Dribble

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:25 am

Prefix strings before ultimate make a situation similar to that of the hemidemisemiquaver. There is some disagreement on the sequence of prefixes, just as I am wont to write hemisemidemiquaver. One ‘authority” says the order is:
ultimate - penultimate - prepenultimate – anteprepenultimate.
Another “authority” says it is:
ultimate - penultimate - antepenultimate –preantepenultimate.

There is a neat phrase similar to ultimate in “Ultima Thule”. It was thought to be the fartherest north one could travel. Thule Airforce Base, near the north shore of Greenland was named for this idea. But then, somebody went to the North Pole.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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