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Joined: December 2, 2003  (email not validated)
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Recent Comments

Interesting comment by Kris. For whatever reason, I've always felt that "Jew" had a harder edge on it than "Jewish." But there's no difference in tone between "Jew" and "Jews."

Adam Rice December 2, 2003, 12:23pm

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Funny thing: I recently discussed this with someone else.

Everyone who took typing class on real typewriters has been taught to use two spaces after a sentence-ending period. As I understand it, this is an artifact unique to typewriters: because the technology results in monospaced text (as others have pointed out), single spaces don't give a strong visual cue; also, because typewriters were typically used in business writing, where abbreviations (terminated with periods) are more common, the convention was adopted to help people distinguish between sentence-ending periods and abbreviation-ending periods.

I learned, however, that one reason typesetters avoid double-spacing after periods is also rooted in the technology of the Linotype machine. Linos use wedges for spaces, and rectangular slugs for type. After a line has been set, a handle is pulled to force the wedges up and justify the line. Two adjacent wedges would jam up the works, so if a customer insisted on two spaces, blank rectangular slugs would need to be inserted, making more work for the Lino operator.

It's worth noting that HTML renderers (eg, your browser) always collapse multiple spaces into one unless you hard-code non-breaking spaces in.

Adam Rice December 2, 2003, 11:58am

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