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The phenomenon called “the Apostrophe Catastrophe” consists in a huge number of instances where text processing software (word processor, desktop publishing) inserts an open quote instead of a leading apostrophe. See here for my source found by a search engine (2015-01-27 09:32:45), including some public examples.
On June 3rd, 2015, Ted Clancy at Mozilla
posted on his blog at Wordpress that
the English apostrophe should be the
As you could read on the cited blogpost, to solve the problems,
the preferred apostrophe must become
Autocorrect apostrophe and quotes
I recommend to disable the smart quotes because we are shown that the so-called “smart quotes” aren’t really smart enough. They could be much smarter without increasing excessively the required algorithms if users didn’t want to choose between different kinds of quotes. Managing effectively free and nested quotes can be automatized, in accordance with locale settings, but AFAIK it has not been in word processing software. This missing automatization would allow to get all needed quotes with one single key, the actual quotation mark, and to free the apostrophe key for what it is called, as it is stated in the above cited blogpost. Thus, perhaps, avoiding the “Apostrophe Catastrophe” was not unfeasible, at the cost of one little change in typing habits.
As Denis Moyogo Jacquerye commented on June 4th, the move of the preferred apostrophe from U+02BC to U+2019 took place not sooner than in version 2.1 of Unicode. ISO, which stands for stability, could never agree that the preferred character for English apostrophe stopped to be U+02BC and started to be U+2019. The first existing NamesList of the history of Unicode, which is the source file of the Code Charts for the 2.0 version of 1996, shows: ¶
0027 APOSTROPHE = APOSTROPHE-QUOTE * neutral (vertical) glyph having mixed usage *
By contrast, the next full version, 3.0.0, which dates from 1999, that is six years after the merger between Unicode and the offspringing ISO/IEC 10646, which took place in 1993, shows a move of the preferred character for apostrophe from U+02BC to U+2019: ¶
0027 APOSTROPHE = APOSTROPHE-QUOTE * neutral (vertical) glyph having mixed usage *
In the next version, 4.0.0, the comment line “preferred character for apostrophe is 2019” at U+0027 has been changed to “2019 is preferred for apostrophe”. The difference may seem slight but I believe it expresses a weakening and shows that Unicode is not at ease with the new preference, which is given as a mere statement of a matter of fact without any approval:
0027 APOSTROPHE = APOSTROPHE-QUOTE = APL quote * neutral (vertical) glyph with mixed usage *
A search in the Mail Archives shows why the apostrophe and the single close quote were ambiguated—a process that needs even a new word to put on it, as ordinarily everybody works for disambiguation. It was for simplification's sake, in word processing software.
Which means that at the end, it could have been the end-user who pushed the preference towards a problematical setting, because he expected the apostrophe key to produce the straight and curly apostrophes and the single open- and close-quotes as well. Disambiguating the latter two is easy and at reach of a simply-to-implement algorithm, which is actually used. Disambiguating the first and the last is not, because abbreviated year’s figures and the rendering of colloquial English bring many leading apostrophes, whose detection would need huge dictionaries.
A main requirement when typing text is that the apostrophe, whether it be straight or curly, does not need any other key to be pressed than the apostrophe key. The example of the Canadian multilingual Standard keyboard layout as well as of all preceding Canadian keyboard layouts shows that when an apostrophe is in the Shift shift state of a keyboard instead of being in the Base shift state, users often mistake the key and type for example a comma instead of an apostrophe, as stated in this archived web page where the positioning of the apostrophe on Shift+comma is addressed to as “bad” and causing “several typing errors where the comma is entered at its place”, which leads to the hope that such errors will “be corrected almost automatically, namingly in word processing software”.
Both straight apostrophe and curly apostrophe are needed in practice, along with straight and curly quotation marks. The straight forms cannot always be replaced with curly quotes, as Markus Kuhn remembers in ASCII and Unicode quotation marks:
“The characters 0x27 (apostrophe) and 0x22 (quotation mark) are often used to abbreviate minutes and seconds or feet and inches, which is yet another reason, why 0x27 should just be a single-stroke version of 0x22, and not a curly directional quotation mark.”It is therefore excluded to simply remap these positions. The user may wish to toggle either between two keyboard layouts, or between two shift states, each of them containing whether the straight apostrophe or the curly one. Moving from one layout to another is easily performed on current operating systems and needs only supplemental modified keyboard drivers. By contrast, getting now the straight, now the curly apostrophe on the same keyboard layout needs a Kana toggle to be placed on a dedicated key, typically Right Windows, Applications (Menu), or Right Control. ¶
To fix the problem, smart quotes must become even smarter, with autocorrect algorithms that replace single open-quote with apostrophe when no end quote is typed. This is very demanding for word processing apps, perhaps even too, because in fact, it’s the user’s job to decide about quotes. Here’s why. ¶
At least four among the most important non-English languages using Latin script, i.e. French, Spanish, Portuguese and German, use two kinds of quotes, one of them to highlight quotations, the other to show the word or expression is not serious, to warn it’s doubtful or ironical. Of course, each of both can be single or double, to make a difference between the two levels when quotations are included in another one. While this latter difference is correctly managed with standard keyboards, the former is not, and no algorithm can help. ¶
This all together highlights some widespread actual keyboard layouts turn out to be unfit for Unicode, nor for writing at all as soon as the text stops to be simple. That is, in English you might use simple quotes as warning quotes outside of quotations, but in European languages double comma quotes are preferred for this purpose, while «chevrons» (that way or »the other way«, or even »this way») mark up quotations. Some typographer proved they were better (look at the yellow markup on the typo examples of this page). ¶
So the second thing to do is to upgrade for enhanced keyboard layouts, allowing users to get started with quotes. Some of these supplemented keyboard layouts don’t even need any stickers to be sticked on keytops; they are smart enough so every existing keyboard stays doing the job. Not “smart quotes”, smart keyboard layouts is what we need. ¶
Whatever country, language, and operating system is on,
users should be enabled to fully control the quotes they type.
Check on your computer if you can, or scroll clicking
I’ll try to be constructive and would have you to
look at section 6.2 in chaptern6 of The Unicode Standard, page 20 of the PDF (that is page 273 of the
Standard). There are two paragraphs about U+2044
Hours are divided into halves and quarters. That’s why, a long time, there were only one half and one and three quarters available as a character. Today, most Word Processors keep inserting automatically ¼, ½ and ¾ when corresponding common digits are typed with an ASCII slash, but most of them don’t go further. Some keyboard layouts of the past decades offer some eighths fractions together with ASCII fractions, namely the Canadian Multilingual Standard keyboard layout. There is much more encoded in Unicode, as thirds, fifths, sixths, then the units of seventh, ninth and tenth, as well as a part of a fraction without denominator. And, of course, the fraction slash, U+2044. To complete, superscripts and subscripts seem to be appropriate, as shown on a test page which you may view in PDF or—even better— open in docx to see it working.
To achieve typing custom fractions on Windows, all you need is your numerical keypad—even if it’s overlaid on the alphanumerical block of a netbook keyboard—and this installable keyboard layout. From now on, if you are seven in a team and you would like to write ⁴⁄₇, just type the following:
Right Alt + NumPad 4,
Right Alt is used as a distinct modifier key, because to enhance input on the numerical keypad, one more modifier is needed. It could have been Kana, because the Kana shift state can be activated with a toggle key, as well as with a modifier key that activates Kana only as long as the key is pressed. But half of the NumPad keys proved not to work well with Kana, so it was necessary to use AltGr, too. On this keyboard layout, no other keys are allocated on this level, therefore no problems will occur (due to the AltGr being handled as Ctrl + Alt on Windows). As a result, you cannot use Right Alt as Alt any more. Right Alt is now like it is on the US International Keyboard. ¶
This keyboard layout allows you to recover full control over the apostrophe you type on Windows, while it functions like the normal US American keyboard layout shipped with Windows whenever you want. There’s no need to disable smart quotes on your preferred Word Processor. Just when you whish to decide yourself which kind of quote you are typing, you hit the ≣ Menu key and you get some changes on a few keys. To get rid of, hit ≣ Menu again. This key is hijacked because most users don’t use it, given that the contextual menu is faster to use with right click—you get what you want by clicking again instead of hitting arrow keys. (There must be a way to have the Menu too, with Ctrl, but unfortunately I don’t know it yet.) Menu is now a Kana toggle key. Kana is a shift state used originally on Far East keyboards, but it’s increasingly used on Occidental keyboards, too. ¶
You may see on the layout diagram there are a few other symbols added on the numpad beside superscripts, subscripts and fraction slash.
Good to know when working with MSKLC: One purpose of MSKLC is to provide a Graphic User Interface to the “Keyboard Table Generation Tool (Unicode),” whose short name is “KbdUTool” (v3.40). This is the software that manages generating the drivers, while the installers are generated by MSKLC. Although included in the folder, it has its own Command Line Interface.
Microsoft has made av. 150 keyboard layouts, improved some for Windows 8, added some for Windows 10. But matching the thousands of languages and user preferences is economically unfeasible, and impossible to endorse. This is why Microsoft make available their tools, welcoming every effort from users tending at creating the keyboard layouts we need and like.
The MSKLC End User License Agreement does not contain the clause present in the Windows EULA, that prohibits to “use components of the software to run applications not running on the software.” So we are free to use the entire folder that constitutes the software, including KbdUTool, that has much less “technical limitations” than the MSKLC main program. This is why there is little temptation to “work around any” of them. Microsoft is already in debt by unsupporting multiple code units by dead keys. Since many programs are available for Windows only, users deserve the right to make full use of the Windows resources to customize their keyboards as they need and like them.
> Example 1: Get more than spaces on the space bar
On the space bar, key positions are scarce, the more as for practical reasons, the normal space is doubled in the Shift shift state, and there are also two no-break spaces to find key positions for. Hence the MSKLC limitation prohibiting any other than white space characters here. But there is no consensus about this.
Three ideas for alternate allocations on Ctrl + Alt + Space:
All this and more, youʼll be able to do by editing the KLC source in a text editor, and in some spreadsheet software, preferably Excel. You may also choose to code it in C and for that, to merge the allocation tables and import them into Excel. Once you are done with editing them, simply select the whole table and paste it back into the C source.
> Example 2 : Accurate character names in MSKLC
To be able to display the character names for your information, MSKLC ships with the source of the Unicode Code Charts, better known as the Unicode Names List. Version number is 5.0 (the actual version at the time MSKLC 1.4 was built).
A built-in update feature enables MSKLC to download the last version of NamesList.txt from the Unicode website (Help > Update Unicode character data). Note however that some character names are defective. A number of characters have thus been given a Formal Alias. Unfortunately, these do not show up in MSKLC. Thus you may wish to use a corrected or otherwise customized Names List, or a localized one. On the Unicode website you can find an American English translation, but it is not maintained. As Unicodeʼs ISO/IEC mirror ISO/IEC 10646 has been translated to French, you may find a Unicode 7.0 French NamesList on hapax.qc.ca.
Be sure that your list starts with a Byte Order Mark, otherwise MSKLC wonʼt be able to read non-ASCII characters from the NamesList. You may wish to open the file in a text editor and convert it to UTF-8 with BOM.
When you have a conformant list, then you may place a copy into your MSKLC user directory (C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\MSKLC), and toggle between nameslists by renaming or moving them to/from subdirectories.
Some limitations that arenʼt really
When using the GUI of MSKLC, keep in mind that a number of limitations of the software are not related to Windows. With respect to the EULA terms, users are not expected to only create keyboard layouts that keep themselves inside these limitations. The most that one can tell is that its author, Michael S. Kaplan, expresses by some of these limitations his care for getting his users making good layouts. Some other ones aim at keeping the software simple, some are due to faith, or to an error:
Michael S. Kaplan passed away in 2015. His blog has been archived. Browsing it for more keyboard layout information is strongly recommended.
A script in batch that helps facilitating the use of KbdUTool, is being localized in English. Work will hopefully be resumed in the near future. You may already view it in your browser. Itʼs self-explaining. If you like it, you are welcome to copy-paste it to a file on your machine and give it the .cmd or .bat extension to be able to run it if you agree to the terms of the LPE license, though a part of the UI, as well as the text files generated by the script, are still in French.
Last but not least, this keyboard layout gives access to the numpad digits on so-called virtual numpads, overlaid on compact keyboards, without acting the NumLock toggle. Just press the Fn Fn (Function) modifier key while you are typing on the numpad. This feature gives Windows netbook users the same ergonomy as on Apple’s Macbook. ¶
This keyboard layout is provided free of charge under the terms of
the included license agreement. The text of the license is mirrored
hereafter. Please read it carefully.
LIFE PROTECTION ENGAGEMENT LICENSE TERMS
These license terms are an agreement between the programmer of this software and you. Please read them. They apply to the software named above, which includes the media on which you received it, if any.
By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software.
If you comply with these license terms, you have the rights below.
INSTALLATION AND USE RIGHTS.
Installation and Use.
One user may install and use any number of copies of the software on your devices.
SCOPE OF LICENSE.
The software is licensed, not sold. This agreement only gives you some rights to use the software.
DISCLAIMER: The programmer of this software and author of this license is not bound to any of the cited parties.
You may not
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY.
The software is licensed “as-is.”
LIMITATION ON AND EXCLUSION OF REMEDIES AND DAMAGES.
You cannot recover any damages, including consequential, lost profits, special, indirect or incidental damages.
Version 1.0 (Draft)
June 9, 2015
The following is the readme of the keyboard driver, which is included in the zipped folder you may download. It contains information about how to install and uninstall the keyboard layout.
Keyboard Drivers Keyboard Name: kbdenuse ‘kbdenuse’ is an experimental keyboard layout for use in the United States. Version: 0.3.2 Keyboard layout for English, United States of America. With U+02BC MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE and a dead key for quotation marks when Kana toggle is on. With digits when Fn pressed. Numpad specials disabled. With superscripts, subscripts and U+2044 FRACTION SLASH. With AltGr. Includes a Compose functionality. Copyright (c) 1985-2001, Microsoft Corporation and 2015, Dispoclavier® Target Operating Systems: Windows from XP upwards, except Windows XP with Intel Itanium processor. This keyboard driver is Windows versioned. You will have to choose the appropriate Windows version among Windows 7 and upwards, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. The Kana toggle will be placed either on the Applications (Menu) key or on Right Control. You will have to choose which key you wish to get dedicated to VK_KANA. For a desktop keyboard, you might opt for Applications (Menu). For a laptop, you will have to get the Kana toggle on Right Control. The key giving access to the Compose functionality is Right Windows if the Kana toggle is on Applications (Menu). If the Kana toggle is on Right Control, the Compose functionality is accessed either on the Applications (Menu) key, or on AltGr+C. Installation 1 Choose your variant and Windows version in the ‘To Install’ folder. 2 Click the setup.exe. You may also open directly the appropriate Microsoft Installation file (*.msi), by trying them one by one or using ‘i386’ for a 32 bit architecture, ‘amd64’ for all 64 bit architectures including Intel, except Intel Itanium which is deserved by ‘ia64’. 3 Look for ‘English (United States) - Experimental’ in the Language Bar. Depending on your Windows version, you may have to activate the new layout. You may define it as your default layout. To check quickly which layout is on, you may give it a distinctive icon, at Settings > Properties > Change Icon. For example, a nice tree icon is found in C:WindowsSystem32shell32.dll Update If you already installed a previous version of ‘kbdenuse’, you may either uninstall it (see below) prior to installing the new one, or replace the old driver directly by the appropriate updated driver: 1 Find out which variant of the driver is in your machine. To achieve this, open the System folder (whose path is C:WindowsSystem32 on a 32 bit machine), type ‘kbdenuse’, press Enter and search for ‘win’. The second instance shows the complete path of the pdb file, for example c:winddk7600.16385.1srcinputlayoutall_kbdskbdenuseobjfre_win7_x86i386kbdenuse.pdb In this example, ‘win7_x86i386’ shows you the variant you need. This is the complete list to decrypt the variant name: objfre_win7_amd64 For Windows 7 upwards amd64 objfre_win7_ia64 For Windows 7 upwards ia64 objfre_win7_x86 For Windows 7 upwards i386 objfre_wlh_amd64 For Windows Vista amd64 objfre_wlh_ia64 For Windows Vista ia64 objfre_wlh_x86 For Windows Vista i386 objfre_wnet_amd64 For Windows XP amd64 objfre_wxp_x86 For Windows XP i386 2 Go to this driver in the ‘To Install’ folder, copy it there, return to the system folder, paste it and choose ‘Paste and replace’. 3 Reboot your machine (Windows, 2 times Tab, Right, choose ‘Reboot’). To uninstall This custom keyboard layout is uninstalled the same way as software. 1 Open the Configuration Pane at Programs. 2 Look for ‘English (United States) - Experimental. 3 Click to Uninstall. You can install up to 60 custom keyboard layouts. License These keyboard drivers are licensed under the attached Life Protection Engagement License, version 1.0. If you agree with the terms of the LPEL, you may use your copy for free. If you do not agree to the terms of the LPEL, please do not use this keyboard layout. Created: June 08, 2015 This version: June 11, 2015 Last modified: 10:03 11/06/2015¶
What's the purpose of changing such things as keyboard layouts? There would be but trouble when things won't work as ususally. People have other things in mind than their keyboard layout.
This is a part of what personally I mean with Unicode
implementation, as related to what I might do for.
Because characters are of little use if they aren't at hand.
Character pickers are not the appropriate tool for such things as quotes and
fractions. Sooner or later one must change for another keyboard layout.
I don’t know of course if this one is good. In any case you can make it much better.
Even if you’re not a programmer (I aren’t neither).
Key stroke formatting: Courtesy Wikipedia
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Last updated on May 26th, 2017.
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