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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: May ::
Editing SHAKSPER as Related to Shakespeare's
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The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0258  Monday, 5 May 2008

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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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 
happen.

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 
explanation.

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": 
<http://www.rfc-editor.org/EOLstory.txt>.)

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 
<http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/chars.html>).

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 
contribution.

Mechanically yours,
Hardy M. Cook

Works Cited

RFC Editor. "The End-of-Line Story."  Online document. 18 April 2004. 
RFC (Requests for Comments) Editor.  4 May 2008 
<http://www.rfc-editor.org/EOLstory.txt>.

"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>.

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