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Icon “quotes” in right-to-left (RTL) languages
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Description

When revisiting the icons I've stumbled upon the 'quotes' RTL treatment in T177432, which was taken over from icon design before the refresh.

These seem false from directionality and axis orientation, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark#Summary_table shared by Ed below.

Tried to find appropriate comparisons on Hebrew and Farsi pages, but even better reaching out to native speakers. :)
Hebrew:


Source: https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%94%D7%99%D7%A1%D7%98%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%94_%D7%A9%D7%9C_%D7%A0%D7%91%D7%97%D7%A8%D7%AA_%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C_%D7%91%D7%9B%D7%93%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%92%D7%9C

In-text treatment: Straight quotes " or mirrored vertically.

Persian:


In-text treatment «»

Possible proposals

  1. Amend quotes to language-specific quotes
    • Pro: Provide typographically, non-US-English-centric quote icon, pleasing other language speakers
    • Possible con: quotes is not inserting quotes, it's pointing to “Cite” functionality in VE's main toolbar, and once to “whole words” functionality in VE's Find and replace dialog. So it's an abstraction that should probably see an abstracted icon itself
  2. Amend quotes to language-neutral icon.

Event Timeline

Restricted Application added a project: UI-Standardization. · View Herald TranscriptApr 26 2019, 10:42 AM
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald Transcript

Quotation mark differs in different languages, for example Persian uses "«»" (since it's RTL, the right one is the opening quotation mark). a template in Persian Wikipedia. These languages have different quotation marks (note that Arabic uses " but Persian is different):

Langopening quote mark
de
es«
fr«
it«
ja「 (It's not a trailing space)
nl
pl
pt«
sv
ru«
zh
fa«

Yes, the choice of double quotes for this icon was rather Anglo-centric: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark#Summary_table

This is mostly Editing Design area with VE being the most important place of 'quotes' currently in place, therefore adding Jess. Citoid an CollaborationKit as the other places.

Volker_E updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 26 2019, 2:32 PM
Volker_E updated the task description. (Show Details)

The long story about Hebrew; you can skip it unless you are a typography geek:

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No no no no no no no no no no please don't take Hebrew Wikipedia's {{Quote}} template as an example! It's wrong in every imaginable regard! I have no idea why was it made this way, but it's just this one place where quotes look like this.

Though I express strong feelings about it here, I somehow never found the time to fix it in the Hebrew Wikipedia itself because I have other things. However, please don't propagate this to any other place. And, I guess I should try to fix in Hebrew as well.

These are the main forms of double quotes in Hebrew:

  • The most common one is just using the plainest double quote characters " in the beginning and the end. As it is with the common U.S. QWERTY keyboard, this is the only double quote-like character on the common Hebrew keyboard on Windows, so that's what almost everyone uses. It's not particularly elegant, but it works.
  • The standard recommended by the Academy of the Hebrew Language is to use the low 9 double quote in the beginning („) and a high 9 double quote in the end (”). Here's an example in a sentence: ראיתי היום את „הנוקמים” החדש, והוא די טוב. This is similar to Polish, except the RTL direction. This was commonly practiced in print in the past, but because of computers with bad keyboards it started gradually disappearing in the 1990s, so you don't see this very much in print or digital publications. It survives in the blogs of some people who give a damn, especially since the default Windows keyboard supports them since Windows 8 (want to guess who convinced Microsoft to add them?). It is seen more frequently in handwriting, however, even by young people. Here's a graffitti I've seen literally today, so it's definitely alive.
  • This is wrong, but I'm mentioning it for completeness: Default Mac and iOS Hebrew keyboards use the Gershayim character (״) instead of double quotes ("). It resembles double quotes, but its usage is supposed to be different. It's wrong, don't use it as quotes!
  • This is also wrong, and I'm also mentioning it only for completeness: Versions of Microsoft Office since 1997 or so auto-corrected double quotes in Hebrew texts the same way as in English, “like this”. The same was done in WordPress. This definitely doesn't happen in WordPress in Hebrew texts any longer, and I think that it doesn't happen in Microsoft Office any longer either, although I haven't checked. These quotes are good for English, and the fact that it was happening in Hebrew text made some people think that it's the standard for Hebrew, but it isn't. Don't use it.

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The above was a braindump of what I know about Hebrew quotes. I hope this was interesting to people who are curious about typography.

Now my actual thoughts about cross-language support in general:

  • Come to think of it, why do the quotes look like this in any language? “ is OK as an opening quote in English, but what is that closing quote, similar to the reversed 6 shape? I couldn't find such a quotation mark anywhere in Unicode.
  • What are these buttons for, actually? If it's for references in the sense of footnotes, then maybe a quotation mark is not the right symbol at all and should be reconsidered? There is a lot of confusion between citations, quotes, quotations, references, and footnotes in the world of Wikipedia and related projects; see T85679. Some Wikipedias, like Russian, Polish and several others, have a custom button (added by gadgets) that converts plain quote characters to language-specific elegant quote characters. This is a useful button, at least for some languages, including English (!), and it should be done as a proper feature, and not as a custom gadget. Do we actually know that people in all languages associate a quotation mark button with the action of adding reference or a footnote? At least for some people, this icon may represent actual quotation rather than footnotes, or the quote marks themselves.
  • Custom buttons with characters from the table at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark#Unicode_code_point_table can be nice, but I'm not sure it will scale well. I'd address the previous point first: Is it actually right to associate the shape of quotation marks with footnotes? I'd test this assumption more carefully.