[Ads-l] Mailing list treatment of quotation marks, apostrophes, and hyphens

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Oct 17 00:51:11 UTC 2014

I believe the problem arises from text that contains "intelligent" 
double quotation marks, "intelligent" single quotation marks, or en-dashes.

The "intelligent" quotation marks are the forms that have different 
shapes for opening and closing symbols -- opening with the tail up, 
closing with the tail down. En-dashes are slightly longer than the 
(dumb) hyphen/minus we're all used to from the days before Unicode.

These "intelligent" characters can be created by Microsoft word, and 
by presumably much other document-processing software these days.  (I 
share Garson's impression that the "mishandling" has become more 
common -- perhaps because more software is using Unicode than 
before.)  They are encoded into bits differently from the 
corresponding dumb characters.

These "intelligent" characters can be copied (e.g. when text is 
cut-and-pasted), or perhaps directly entered, into an email application.

The problem arises when some program does not understand the 
different encoding of the intelligent characters, and treats them as 
a sequence of (three) characters that it does understand.  I believe 
this happens with some email clients (my Eudora, for example) rather 
than in the list software, but I'm not absolutely positive.  A test 
shortly may give an answer.


At 10/16/2014 06:29 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:

>Has the mailing list software always mishandled quotation marks,
>apostrophes, and hyphens? I do not remember the problem being so
>severe last year.
>Also, I am still receiving warning messages like this:
>[Begin excerpt]
>This message may not have been sent by:
>[End excerpt]
>Maybe there is a way to reconfigure the mailing list software so that
>it does not garble/rewrite messages so often.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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