[texhax] How to write straight accents in TeX (not LaTeX!)

Pablo Mayckon pmsf at alu.dc.ufc.br
Tue Sep 11 21:28:48 CEST 2007

> Well, it begs the question of why he's using Plain TeX instead of LaTeX:
> This could be handled by using xetex instead:
> http://scripts.sil.org/xetex
> If Pablo is interested in using Plain TeX for some reason other than
> developing a facility for low-level macros, XeTeX may be more
> comfortable.
> William

Hello, guys. I thank you all for the messages.

In fact, I decided to learn TeX because I found myself doing things in LaTeX
which, I thought, had more to do with typesetting itself, rather than with
concentrating on the contents of the text and letting LaTeX do the formatting
(the latter being the basic philosophy of LaTeX). I also read that TeX is a
special purpose programming language, and, being a computer science student, I
was willing to make use of such generality and flexibility.

On the other hand, I think that plain TeX's basic treatment of accents ("\'a"
and so on) is not appropriate for someone whose native language practice
involves using a lot of accents. In particular, I wonder if this treatment
would not have been made easier if Knuth spoke Portuguese :-) (or French or
some other language with accents). And, believing that the fact that [typing
accents through control symbols is not appropriate for everyday use] was quite
clear, I decided to ask you (TeX users) what people usually do about.

>From the time I wrote my previous message until now, I have been using the
"catcode" suggestion, and it works. But the task of teaching TeX what each
accented letter "means" (both lower and upper case occurrences), putting this
in an "accents.tex" file and \input'ing this file into my text was rather
boring, and, although it's all done now, I feel that there should be a better
way of doing this (I mean, if we are heading towards a fair
internationalization of the world :-)).

Pablo Mayckon.

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