[b-greek] Message format

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Tue Sep 05 2000 - 09:14:52 EDT

Over the weekend I received a message from a B-Greeker who is having some
difficulty reading messages sent by some other B-Greekers in "styled text."
Since I share some of this list-member's concerns myself and I think that
some others may do so also, I'm going to cite that brief message without
identifying the source:

"I wonder if it would be proper to have a recommendation that people
posting on b-greek would use plain text format. Some people use MIME
with such settings that no any text is seen using my e-mail program with
my settings (unless I view the source; the color of the text and of
background may end up being the same, if the MIME settings specify only
one). I do not think I am the only one who may find this troublesome.
The tendency is to just delete these messages without reading them."

It may well be that several list-members are not even quite cognizant of
the fact that they are writing and sending out messages in "styled" text or
of the alternatives open to them in their mail-program's settings. I have
been using Eudora for years, and I'm given the option in my "Styled Text"
settings as follows:
        Sending mail with styles:
        __ Send plain & styled both
        __ Send styled mail only
        __ Send plain text mail only
        __ Ask each time
        When receiving styled mail, pay attention to:
        __ Bold __ Font __ Left, right, center
        __ Italic __ Size __ Margins
        __ Underline __ Color __ Excerpts

For my part I've tried to avoid sending styled text, although occasionally
I've an acute, grave, or circumflex accent or an umlaut when writing a
French or German word. Unless a recipient's mail program is able to
interpret the MIME text, such items will show up as gobbledygook on his or
her screen. I think that the most common of such items is "curly quotes"
(as opposed to the vertical and straight "plain text" quotes--identical at
both ends of the word) which show up on my screen as empty upright
rectangular outlines the size of a character without any character.

Here's an example, chosen solely for illustrative purposes, from a current
message received today:

>It is from C D F Moules “An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek” on page 5
>(1953, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge)
>“A. Aktionsart

Now, perhaps the citation-marks appear correctly as "curly quotes" on some
screens, but on mine they show up as empty upright rectangular blocks.

Here's another example:

>It ought to be added that both in Greek and English there are some verbs
>which, owing to their very meaning, can only be either ‘linear’ or
>‘punctiliar’ (not both). Thus, ‘to snatch’ is necessarily ‘punctiliar’, and
>the Imperfect, ‘he was snatching a few moments of sleep’, can, in the
>nature of the case, only refer in reality to the protracted result of a
>‘punctiliar’ act—’ he was enjoying the rest which he snatched’ (at a given
>moment—’ punctiliar’). “

The word "linear" on the second line above appears on my screen with a
character that looks like the OE monograph diphthong in front and an
upright rectangular block following it. My guess is that these are probably
supposed to be an opening single inverted comma and a closing single
inverted comma (i.e. single "curly" quotation mark). Then in the last two
lines cited above my screen shows two upright rectangular blocks following
the words "act" and "moment".

While I really don't much like the idea that the list should dictate the
format in which mail to the list should be sent (as we don't dictate the
transliteration scheme to be used for Greek), I think that list-members
need to be aware that this use of "styled text" does represent a problem
for several list-members. And if you think you have something worthwhile to
say on a particular question or issue, it does seem a shame that the
recipient may feel inclined to delete your message without trying to read
it because you have chosen to send it in a format that isn't universally

Might I suggest then that list-members give this some consideration and, if
so inclined, adjust their mail settings accordingly. Thanks.

Carl W. Conrad
Co-Chair, B-Greek List
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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