Volume 7, Issue 180; 04 Oct 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Bad typography, or a locale convention?

I was struckNo, I don’t mean that kind of “struck”. Ah, the felicity of English. I mean I noticed it, but that doesn’t sound as dramatic. by this sign on a tram in Basel, CH.

The Art of Quoting?
The Art of Quoting?

It looks wrong to my eyes. Either of „this“ or “this” would have been expected, but “this“? Typographic error or locale convention?


As a Swiss citizen, I can assure you that quotes are normally written as you would expect them. If different quotes are used, it's «this» or sometimes »this« – I don't know the exact typorgraphic convention here, though.

BTW: Enjoy your stay in Switzerland!


—Posted by jr on 05 Oct 2004 @ 12:43 UTC #

Typographical error. I'm mystified as to how it happened; no "smart quotes" engine I'm aware of would produce that. Someone must have decided to do it that way.

—Posted by Dorothea Salo on 05 Oct 2004 @ 04:25 UTC #

I suspect that whoever typeset that knows that both opening and closing quotes in English are high (as opposed to the German convention of low-9 opening, high-6 closing), but didn't have the proper high-9 available, so used high-6 for both opening and closing. Think of it as typographical Engrish.

Here's a concise summary of quotation rules for various languages:

English/Dutch/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish/Turkish: high-6 to high-9
German/Czech/Slovak: low-9 to high-6, or guillemets pointing in
Danish/Finnish/Norwegian/Swedish: high-9 to high-9, or guillemets pointing right
Hungarian/Polish: low-9 to high-9, or guillemets pointing right
French/Greek/Russian: guillemets pointing out
Slovenian: guillemets pointing in

This is documented on pages 156-58 of The Unicode Standard, Version 4.0, available online as pages 11-13 of http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode4.0.0/ch06.pdf , along with the CJK styles (too complex for this comment).

—Posted by John Cowan on 05 Oct 2004 @ 05:24 UTC #

Ha! You wrote „this.” Didn't you want to write „this,“ or did you expect Hungarian/Polish style in Switzerland?
I had this “What did they do with the quotes”-feeling in a (dubbed) movie last Friday. It had some text overlays, sometimes quoting like „this” and sometimes like „this!“

—Posted by Martin Kretzschmar on 05 Oct 2004 @ 07:15 UTC #