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The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0258 Monday, 5 May 2008
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Sunday, May 04, 2008
Subject: Editing SHAKSPER as Related to Shakespeare's Intentions
Gabriel Egan writes,
>Let me give a concrete example of how this bears on
>intentionality. I no longer bother to put into my
>SHAKSPER posts the usual MLA-style typescript
>representation of an em-line dash (which is two hyphens
>with no space either side) because for some reason
>Hardy Cook replaces them with single hyphens, and
>to my eye this makes the kinds of sentence constructions
>I favour rather hard to read. Thus I now rephrase sentences
>to suit my anticipation of what will happen on the way to
>publication. Indeed, I don't only rephrase the already-
>written, I compose in anticipation of this limitation.
>Who, then, 'intends' my alternative accidentals?
>Hardy is the root cause of them, but he may well have a
>good (mechanical) reason. But are they mine nonetheless?
Here, Gabriel hypothesizes that "[Hardy] may well have a good
(mechanical) reason" behind the replacing "the usual MLA-style
typescript representation of an em-line dash (which is two hyphens with
no space either side) . . . with single hyphens." Gabriel has made an
accurate assumption here, and I would like to explain how these changes
Since I began editing SHAKSPER digests for distribution, I strove for a
consistent "look and feel" to the digests, one that would appear roughly
the same no matter what computer platform, web browser, or e-mail client
the member used to send messages to or to read the digests from SHAKSPER.
At this point in writing this response, I had intended to describe in
detail the procedures that I use, including the macros I have created,
to transform an e-mail message I receive into the digest I send out.
However, as I was writing, I realized that my detailed description was
unnecessary. Let me momentarily continue as I was until I get to the
1. I save messages that appear in my inbox for SHAKSPER as Windows
default "plain text" documents to a folder on one of my hard drives.
2. When I edit what I have received, I begin by opening a file I have
named HEADER, I make adjustments so that the header reflects the day,
date, and number of the digest I am working on, such as "The Shakespeare
Conference: SHK XX.XXXx Monday, 5 May 2008" - Next, I select all and
copy the header.
EXPLANATION FOR "MECHANICAL" REASON:
I am composing this response in WORD 2007 with the document format set
to WORD 97-2003. Above, I just typed two hyphens after 2008" and Word
automatically changed those two hyphens, as soon as I typed the comma
after "Next," into an em-line dash in the default Tahoma 12 point font
of the document.
In my efforts to create digests that look roughly the same no matter
what computer platform, web browser, or e-mail client the member uses, I
employ a "full block" format I have developed for SHAKSPER digests.
1. All lines are flush with left hand margin, including long quotations
and bulleted or numbered lists (since the right hand margin is variable,
having consistent-looking results is virtually impossible).
2. Lines are single-spaced.
3. Paragraphs are not indented; instead, separate paragraphs are
indicated by having a blank line between them.
4. All sentences are formatted in a manner so that they word-wrap in the
e-mail client; to avoid sentences that might begin with a single space
indentation, I put one space between the terminal mark of punctuation
and the beginning of the next sentence instead of two. (When an e-mail
is saved, some computer platforms, web browsers, or e-mail clients
insert "Carriage Returns" or "Line Feeds" or both at line breaks, so I
have created a macro I use to remove "Carriage Returns," indicated by CR
or the Paragraph symbol or CR/LF at the end of a line (EOL). If you are
interested in these matters, you should read "The End-of-Line Story":
When I am done formatting, I click on one of my macros and save the
digest as a US-ASCII plain text file with character substitutions and
lines that word-wrap. As I format, any time I type two hyphens Word
converts them into an em-line dash; furthermore, any two hyphens that
members have typed are, at one stage in my formatting process, similarly
converted into em-line dashes. Thus, when I am ready to click on my
macro to conclude my editing/formatting, all em-line dashes appear as
em-line dashes in the default Tahoma 12 point font of the document, and
my final step of saving the file in US-ASCII transforms all these
em-line dashes into single hyphens, since the basic ASCII character set
does not have an em-line dash character (The initial ASCII character set
consists of 128 characters, of which 33 are non-print control characters
that affect how text is processed and of which 94 are the printable
letters of the English alphabet <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCII>.)
As limited as it is, the US-ASCII character set is generally
acknowledged to be the de facto standard for electronic communication in
English across computer platforms, Internet browsers, and e-mail
clients: Jukka Korpela maintains that "ASCII is the safest character
repertoire to be used in data transfer." In fact, "Most character codes
currently in use contain ASCII as their subset in some sense" (Korpela
I have read and made editing and stylistic changes in this document for
perhaps the twentieth time and am ready to save it as a "plain text"
(i.e., US-ASCII) file that I will later combine into the digest for the
subject in the Subject line above. After I Save-as as I indicated above,
the em-line dash in this file will become a single hyphen, explaining (I
hope) the "mechanical" reason that Gabriel Egan mentions in his
Hardy M. Cook
RFC Editor. "The End-of-Line Story." Online document. 18 April 2004.
RFC (Requests for Comments) Editor. 4 May 2008
"ASCII." Online article. 1 May 2008. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
4 May 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCII>.
Korpela, Jukka. "A Tutorial on Character Code Issues." Online article.
13 July 2007 <http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/chars.html>.
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
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editor assumes no responsibility for them.