Re: Soft Hyphens

Murray Maloney (murray@sco.COM)
Thu, 1 Dec 94 09:36:36 EST

> Another subscriber and I have been discussing the hypothetical soft
> hyphen entity ­ and have come to an impasse of understanding.
> My assumption was that the purpose of this soft hyphen would be to
> mark a visible hyphen or dash character that can be used as a word
> separator; for example, in order to break the word "drawing-
> parlour" at a margin (as in this letter), one would use the string
> "drawing­parlour" in their HTML document.
> The other interpretation is that ­ would mark an *invisible*
> point at which a word can be broken; thus, "al­go­rithm"
> could be used to represent a word which can be broken at a margin
> into the portions "al-" and "gorithm," or "algo-" and "rithm,"
> depending on which is needed by the browser.
> Which is the intended usage?

>From 8859-1: 6.3.3 SOFT HYPHEN (SHY)
A graphic character that is imaged by a graphic symbol
identical with, or similar to, that representing HYPHEN,
for use when a line break has been established within a word.

So, my reading is that the latter interpretation is true.
See my reply to the other subscriber.
> If the former, I will suggest again that perhaps the recommended
> behavior for browsers should be to interpret a minus character as a
> soft hyphen, and to introduce an entity for the hard hyphen and the
> minus character, on the basis that the minus is more often used in
> the role of a soft hyphen than in the other two roles. (And, again,
> if this suggestion violates a fundamental tenet of SGML or HTML of
> which I am not aware, then I respectfully retract this suggestion.)

The "minus" character to which you refer is, according to 8859-1,
a synonym for "hyphen". Now, I know that a "minus" and a "hyphen"
are not the same. But for the purposes of this coded character set,
they are.

There are minus and hyphen entities in the non-normative
SGML entities listed in 8879:1986. I encourage this group
to adopt the entire set of entities and then work towards
providing a means for supporting them.