Minimizing Keystrokes Required by Punctuation (in Emacs, of course)

The emacs community is a pretty tightly-knit one. Wtihin it, there are a few interesting characters to be sure. Xah Lee, who I bet could even deliver a roundhouse kick with emacs, is just one of these characters. Have you examined his resume?

Some of his posts are re-circulated through the emacs blogs I subscribe to, which is nice. I figure the cream of the crop will be delivered to me without having to add yet another source to my list of professional procrastinations. One such article that made it to my living room is his take on punctuation in the English language, obviously influenced by his multilingualism. (You should stop and read the article now, or at least browse it casually, so you understand how far off I was when I proceed to the rest of this post.)

Before I figured out what he was talking about, my mind came to the conclusion that indeed, typing a space after a comma is a waste. But not merely a waste of space! I thought his real concern was the wasted keystroke (as so many emacs users are wont to dispel). The thought had been planted, and it hasn’t died since. Now my concern is the millions of wasted keystrokes I have been content with since I started typing. Why is it necessary to manually insert spaces after typing punctuation? In plain English, when is it ever appropriate to follow a punctuation mark with a non-whitespace character?

…It’s not! And it won’t be. (Wait, did you see what I did there?) Given the trivial nature of conforming emacs to my preferences, it would be a snap to write

But how crazy is that? Honestly, it makes me feel a little insane. I’m a little afraid to try it for some substantial length of time, for the same reason I was afraid of trying dvorak: I don’t want to sound like a sailor every time I sit down at another keyboard, growing frustrated at my lack of ability to type simple constructs. Maybe I’ll give it a shot, maybe I’ll only enable it in certain Major Modes (fundamental, org, text). When I decide how to handle this nascent idea appropriately, I’ll be sure to revisit the topic on this blog. The inception has begun, and now it’s in your mind too. Cheers! :)

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3 thoughts on “Minimizing Keystrokes Required by Punctuation (in Emacs, of course)

  1. Pingback: Lean Text Editing with Emacs: Kanban Applied to the Process of Text Editing | FZ Blogs

  2. Great tip! What if instead of simply insert the comma+space I want also to replace any highlighted text? I often fix typo simply overwriting them after highlighting.

    • This sounds like a question that is unrelated to this post- if you frequently overwrite selected text by inserting a character, surely you have a method or setting to do this automatically. In this case, selected text would be overwritten by pressing comma (as usual), and the remapping would insert the additional space as well.

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