Text encoding Babel. Was Re: George Keremedjiev

Fred Cisin cisin at xenosoft.com
Tue Nov 27 22:27:15 CST 2018

On Tue, 27 Nov 2018, Sean Conner via cctalk wrote:

> It was thus said that the Great Keelan Lightfoot via cctalk once stated:

>  In fact, typewriters have more flexibility than computers do even today.
> Within the restriction of a typewriter (only characters and spaces) you
> could use the back-space key (which did not erase the previous
> character) and re-type the same character to get a bold effect.  You could
> back-space and hit the underscore to get underlined text.  You could
> back-space and hit the ` key to get a grave accent, and the ' to get an
> acute accent.  With a bit more fiddling with the back-space and adjusting
> the paper via the platten, you could get umlauts (either via the . or '
> keys).

But, doing superscripts required a steady hand.
Hence, half a century ago, many physicists changed
6.02 x 10[superscript]23  into
6.02 E 23

>  I think the original intent of the BS control character in ASCII was to
> facilitate this behavior, but alas, nothing ever did.  Shame, it's a neat
> concept.

There was word processing software around 1980 that would do underlining 
wither through backspacing, or through Carriage Return WITHOUT Linefeed.
also bold, overstrike, slashed zeroes, etc.

>> I like the C comment example; Why do I need to call out a comment with
>> a special sequence of letters? Why can't a comment exist as a comment?

Why not a language even more self-documenting than COBOL, wherein the main 
body is text, and special markers to identify the CODE that corresponds?

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