history of strange wayf of quoting text

From this link:

See the ``quotes"…
Any idea the story behind this style of writing?

So let’s take a look at the ``evidence’’ brought out by the show. To make this easier, below is a table with links to the specific arguments.

It also depends on what you mean by ``doubts’’.

Bad: The program talks about the movie Capricorn 1'', an entertaining if ultimately silly movie about how NASA must fake a manned Mars expedition. The program says The Apollo footage [from the surface of the Moon] is strikingly similar to the scenes in ``Capricorn 1’’.

I can’t attest to all examples, but the times I’ve encountered that mode, it has been the result of a glitch in scanning equipment and translating software. For some reason, the first double quotation mark gets read as two individual marks while the latter gets correctly interpreted as a single double-quote character.

And it’s in no way related to the Illuminati! fnord

I have seen it on slashdot all the time, and I know for a fact that the text is not OCR’d

The easiest choice in this situation would be to just ask the Bad Astronomer what’s up. He’s around here somewhere.

It’s for browsers who correctly render the ` as a left-quote mark. Mozilla on Linux does this, and it looks rather nice matched with the ", when that is correctly rendered as a pair of right quote-marks.

Remember: Not everyone designs around the limitations of broken software (Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer).

Some people just feel that it was sloppy of the folks who hashed out ASCII to spooje both open-quotes and close-quotes into one symbol.

Differentiating between the two greatly improves legibility in many cases – it’s too bad that, without taking unreasonable pains, the closest approximation to “real quotes” is a bit ugly and awkward-looking.

Since when is it a browsers job to render un-encoded characters? I still dont see why not use ", what “looks” different in a left vs rigth quote mark?

Wrong. ` is not a left-quote mark, it’s a grave accent. Cite.

The ``quotes" are an atempt to simulate proper typographic “quotes” with a limited character set. They are garish and amateurish, not to mention unnecessary (since, as I’ve just demonstrated, the proper quotation mark characters are in the character set). For more information on proper typography, read this.

Oh, and I guess I should explain how to prove my cite: In Windows, press alt+0096. That character corresponds to character 96 in ISO-8859. If you’re on *nix, then be a man and use a hex editor or just take my word for it. :slight_smile:

Well, the reason I use and '' for quotes, is that that's what LaTeX requires, so you just kinda get used to it. LaTeX is a typesetting system, where instead of having software like Word desparately try to figure out what you mean (e.g. smart quotes), and try to typeset it in real time, you type out exactly what you mean, using a sometimes slightly cryptic syntax, and then run LaTeX, which typesets it beautifully. This includes turning your and ‘’ quotes into proper opening and closing quotes. For more details on why word processors suck, see http://www.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/wp.html

Oh, I should add that while LaTeX is virtually unknown in many fields, it is absolutely without doubt the easiest way to type stuff with a lot of equations, so phycisists (and astronomers) tend to use it far more than your average Joe…

I think LaTeX has informed a lot of hackish typography because it’s very prevalent, especially in the *nix world, and it represents an unambiguous way of tying non-ASCII characters in an ASCII-only medium. Plus, it’s the only thing close to a standard when it comes to writing nontrivial equations in ASCII (ie, more complex than can be comfortably handled with the traditional Fortran or C notation).

Anyway, the difference between the grave and the left quote is rather marginal, except that one exists in the standard typable ASCII and the other, sadly, does not. So guess which one gets used?