Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Burger King’s Botched Apostrophe Curling

John Gruber:

The various “smart quotes” algorithms you get while typing aren’t smart enough to make this contextual distinction — even very good ones — so you need to do it by hand. Here’s how to type them manually[…]

Mac Windows Linux
Open single quote: ‘ Option-] Alt-0-1-4-5 Use ASCII
Close single quote: ’ Shift-Option-] Alt-0-1-4-6 Use ASCII
Open double quote: “ Option-[ Alt-0-1-4-7 ✊🍆
Close double quote: ” Shift-Option-[ Alt-0-1-4-8 Shift-✊🍆

These key combinations have always seemed weird to me. Why didn’t they use the opening bracket for both opening quotes and the closing bracket for both closing quotes? Then add Shift for the double quote, since it’s “bigger.” That seems easier to remember than [ meaning ", ] meaning ', and Shift meaning close-quote. Maybe the reason is that there’s a third quote type: next to the ] key is the \ key, which is used to type « and (with Shift) ».

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>> These key combinations have always seemed weird to me.

Agreed! Glad to know I'm not alone in this.

You can use the compose key on Linux to type them. For example, a close single quote is compose+>+'.

There’s a stack exchange answer that goes over all of them:


You can select your compose key in the settings of most distributions. For example, in Ubuntu it’s in Settings > Keyboard > Compose Key. I have mine set to the right alt key.

Linda Rodríguez

Can someone please explain the meaning of the closed fist and eggplant emojis in the table?

I‘m pretty anal about punctuation and grammar, but no one really notices or gives a shit about this stuff.

Except for Gruber. You know -- the guy who always lectures us never to trust Bloomberg ... every time he quotes Bloomberg.

And I absolutely can never can remember those stupid magic key combinations. I randomly just trying everything until I get the right ones. And I still get them wrong, as I have demonstrated in the first contraction of the first sentence of this post.

✊🍆 ???????????????????????????????

John Gruber is making totally accurate commentary about how super advanced Linux is by stating that you can type paired quotes by entering your VR environment and performing the jerk-off motion. It is absolutely not a cheap shot at Linux's user friendliness, as John Gruber has too much respect for Linux.

Sure we use it for capitalisation, but holding Shift often “reverses”. Most famous example would be Undo / Redo, and I often use it when tab cycling through elements in a page.

✊🍆 is code for male masturbation.
The eggplant is a penis and the closed fist is ment to look like a man stroking said penis.

If you can't remember all those combinations, you can use the virtual keyboard.

I have multiple keyboards (NL, EN) defined in system preferences. Now I have a language menu near the clock, and I have the options "Show Keyboardview". When you press a modifier (alt/opt, the layout changes and shows what characters you can use. Or just just use the mouse to click on the keys...

Being forced to use Windows at work I've missed the easy keyboard shortcuts for stuff like this and the em dash, the ellipse and more.

But Win-V is my friend now, not only because Windows has a built in clipboard history* but because the windows also has easy access to special characters like the mentioned quotes and more.

* = Clipboard history is an absolute must for me and should be for everyone. I use Alfred on Mac and it works great but Apple really should have this built in since ages ago, it is tremendously useful and has saved my bacon so many times when I accidentally overwritten my clipboard. Just the easy of mind knowing that I can copy multiple things and never worry that any informations is lost.

Corentin Cras-Méneur

The « » are French quotes.
I use all these quotations signs throughout the shortcuts all the time.
Apple will also automatically try to convert your quotes to curved ones if you use ' " manually (aka using smart quotes), bt it makes mistakes and makes it REALLY hard to use the straight version when you need them in maths and formulas :->

On Windows… I just let the automated substitution work for me because I SURE can't remember the all the crazy codes I need for various letters and symbols.

Although not quite the same quotes, I've used Keyboard Maestro to create a text expansion for `;prime` and `;dprime` to ʹ and ʺ, so that I can type those easier. You could probably do something similar with, say, `;ldq` and `;rdq` for, which may be faster to remember and type then trying to get the keyboard option and shift keys correct...

Pierre Lebeaupin

If you think that's bad, consider that on French Mac keyboards our quotes follow that warped logic (unshifted for the opening version, add shift for the closing version), but the saner logic (separate keys for opening and closing) does prevail for single and double "English" quotes. Add to that the non-breaking space you're meant to add so these French quotes behave as expected, and you'll understand why I almost never bother with them if hitting <> is insufficient to obtain them.

@Corentin In most apps, you can hold down Control when typing ' or " to prevent it from being auto-smartened.

Gruber is attempting to make a joke at the expense of Linux. As if to say: “the Windows keyboard shortcuts for these characters are really obscure and unintuitive compared to Mac, but the Linux shortcuts, whatever they may be, are really, reeeally user-unfriendly.”

About twenty years ago, my brother designed a custom keyboard layout for me which makes it easier to compose Latin characters that include common diacritics such as an acute accent (´ — already easy), hačeks (as in č — already easy for some characters, but not for others) and *smart* smart quotation marks, exactly as Michael suggests in the OP: option-[ is open-single-quote; option-] is close-single-quote; shift-option-[ is open-double-quote; and shift-option-] is close-double-quote.

When I installed this keyboard and began using it, suddenly I *never* made quotation-mark typos! Except, naturally, when I use anyone else's Mac keyboard....

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