Consistent punctuation oddities

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Thu May 1 02:00:35 UTC 2008

Apologies for my misremembering...clearly I've had French students who put
spaces before some punctuation and my memory generalised it to all


--On Tuesday, April 29, 2008 11:07 pm -0400 James Harbeck
<jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA> wrote:

>> My French students put spaces before commas and periods.  I wonder if
>> French word-processors treat the space as non-breaking?
> Part of my day job involves handling documents in French, produced
> usually -- but not always -- by translators. It's quite common but
> not universal for the space before the colon, semicolon, question
> mark, exclamation mark, and percent sign, and inside guillemets
> (angle quotes) to be in the documents I receive as non-breaking.
> (Note that not all francophones actually insert those spaces before,
> however; the average fraoncophone is no more expert a user of his or
> her language than the average anglophone is, and even French experts,
> e.g., translators, disagree with each other all the time, usually
> vehemently.) When the version the public gets to see is produced, of
> course, they're always non-breaking.
> To complicate things further, the space before some of these marks is
> supposed to be a thin space. MS Word doesn't really accommodate those
> agreeably, however, so that gets done in the layout. _Which_ ones get
> a thin space is again a subject of often violent disagreement.
> James Harbeck.

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language
Arts B135
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list