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Let us pray for our husbands‘ long lives.

enter image description here

The quote is really weird here. I usually use ' in those situations, was I wrong? How do you even type that?

closed as off-topic by oerkelens, Kris, David, Rob_Ster, choster Dec 15 '17 at 16:07

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    That does indeed seem to be a typographical error. Personally I would type that character with the key right under my esc key, I guess. – oerkelens Dec 15 '17 at 12:22
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a bout a simply typo, not about English language and usage. – oerkelens Dec 15 '17 at 12:25
  • @oerkelens Do you think the edited title question is still not about English? The question body seemed unclear what an English apostrophe should even “be”. – tchrist Dec 15 '17 at 18:32
  • Are they getting reputation for closing questions? Because people on these sites really like doing that for some reason. – puppon -su Dec 16 '17 at 14:32
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Just a bit off: 2019 − 2018 = 1

If this were text you found on the Internet, particularly on the Web, then because more than 90% of websites worldwide use Unicode text, we would be able to examine the actual codes used for that bit of text and so give you a very good guess as to what has gone wrong.

However, here we cannot be so sure of this because you have shown only an image full of pixels instead of a bit of computer text whose values we could analyse. That’s because different characters can look very similar and sometimes even identical to each other, especially when you take into account the choice of typeface (as in font) used for displaying the glyphs.

UPDATE: I missed the topmost line, in which the coded character is indeed a LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK, character number 2018. The direction is reversed compared with how we write an apostrophe in English, which should be character 2018, RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK.

Details follow.


Furthermore, you cannot trust “helpful” software not to change which character you’ve used right out from under you no matter what you’ve yourself just used.

The most likely explanation is that the person entering the original text made an off-by-one error when they entered that line of text. They probably used Unicode character U+2018 LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK when they should have instead used Unicode character U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK.

This isn’t a mistake that’s likely to be seen by people writing out text in longhand with pen and paper. Neither do you expect professional typesetters to make so glaring an error, because they always understood the stark difference between one and the other form:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/ClavierLinotype_20041006-163300.jpg
Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/ClavierLinotype_20041006-163300.jpg

Typesetters don’t use keyboards like that any longer, but they do still have special keyboard mappings to enter the precisely desired character. However, whoever entered that text was unlikely to have been a professional typesetter, so they were stuck with whatever the labels on the keys of their little computer typewriter keyboard, which never has any keys labelled with those characters that are actually needed. So some allowance has to be made for non-professional text entry when no one wants to hire a professional for “such a simple job” any longer.

Because of the deceptively unhelpful practices of WYSIWYG text-entry software that attempts to impose magical transformations like “smart quotes” on what you enter, what you type is quite often NOT what you get — and neither is what you see.

So probably what happened is that somebody used an old-fashioned computer typewriter that had only a single key with a “straight single quote” on it, something that was in most ways no more sophisticated than your average vintage typewriter had for its keycaps:

http://www.vintagetypewritershoppe.com/i/TYPEWRITERS2222/P5031207.JPG
Credit: http://www.vintagetypewritershoppe.com/i/TYPEWRITERS2222/P5031207.JPG

That means the keystroke they entered probably recorded the legacy character found at Unicode U+0027 APOSTROPHE. That character is supported for interacting with legacy text, but it is not what should be used going forward. That’s because the Unicode Character Database specifically notes of that old ASCII apostrophe code point that: (bold emphasis mine)

  • neutral (vertical) glyph with mixed usage
  • 2019 is preferred for apostrophe
  • preferred characters in English for paired quotation marks are 2018 & 2019

As I earlier mentioned, they should have use U+2019 for that apostrophe, but for whatever reason of fumbled fingers or broken smart-quote algorithms (read: smarty-pants algorithms) from What You See Ain’t What You Get layman’s text-entry software, they got U+2018 instead. Those two numbers differ only in their least significant bit, so it’s always possible that cosmic rays or Grace Hopper’s electrocuted insect toggled a bit the wrong way. But it’s probably use user error.

FMTEYEWTK about Apostrophic Lookalikes in Unicode

To say that Unicode has “a lot of characters” is an injustice to the “a lot of” premodifying quantifier phrase. Unicode has well over a hundred thousand characters, and it’s constantly growing.

To simplify things, here are a couple dozen Unicode characters that can be confused for apostrophes and their kin. Some actually are apostrophes; others look like apostrophes but aren’t; some aren’t called apostrophes but are. Number 1 on the list is probably what they entered but should not have. They should have entered number 14 on the list but they somehow ended up with number 13 instead.

Key to Table

To understand this listing, the U+*NNNN* entry is the Unicode code point, the number that identifies the character. The BOLD NAME is the official name, and the italicized list on the next line following is the various different character “properties” that apply to that code point. Notice that some are letters, some are punctuation, and some are symbols. But only two are ASCII, and most people don’t know how to enter anything but ASCII on their legacy keyboards.

  1. U+0027 ‹'› APOSTROPHE
    ASCII, Punctuation, Other Punctuation, Quotation Mark
  2. U+0060 ‹`› GRAVE ACCENT
    ASCII, Symbol, Modifier Symbol, Diacritic
  3. U+00B4 ‹´› ACUTE ACCENT
    In Block=Latin 1, Symbol, Modifier Symbol, Changes When NFKC Casefolded, Diacritic
  4. U+02B9 ‹ʹ› MODIFIER LETTER PRIME
    Alphabetic, Letter, Modifier Letter, Diacritic
  5. U+02BB ‹ʻ› MODIFIER LETTER TURNED COMMA
    Letter, Modifier Letter, Spacing Modifier Letters, Diacritic
  6. U+02BC ‹ʼ› MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE
    Letter, Modifier Letter, Spacing Modifier Letters, Diacritic
  7. U+02BD ‹ʽ› MODIFIER LETTER REVERSED COMMA Letter, Modifier Letter, Spacing Modifier Letters, Diacritic
  8. U+02C8 ‹ˈ› MODIFIER LETTER VERTICAL LINE
    Letter, Modifier Letter, Spacing Modifier Letters
  9. U+02CA ‹ˊ› MODIFIER LETTER ACUTE ACCENT
    Letter, Modifier Letter, Spacing Modifier Letters, Diacritic
  10. U+02CB ‹ˋ› MODIFIER LETTER GRAVE ACCENT
    Letter, Modifier Letter, Spacing Modifier Letters, Diacritic
  11. U+0300 ‹◌̀› COMBINING GRAVE ACCENT
    Mark, Nonspacing Mark, Combining Diacritical Marks, Diacritic
  12. U+0301 ‹◌́› COMBINING ACUTE ACCENT
    Mark, Nonspacing Mark, Combining Diacritical Marks, Diacritic
  13. U+2018 ‹‘› LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK
    Punctuation, Initial Punctuation, Quotation Mark
  14. U+2019 ‹’› RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK
    Punctuation, Final Punctuation, Quotation Mark
  15. U+201B ‹‛› SINGLE HIGH-REVERSED-9 QUOTATION MARK
    Punctuation, Initial Punctuation, Quotation Mark
  16. U+2032 ‹′› PRIME
    Punctuation, Other Punctuation, Math
  17. U+2035 ‹‵› REVERSED PRIME
    Punctuation, Other Punctuation
  18. U+275B ‹❛› HEAVY SINGLE TURNED COMMA QUOTATION MARK ORNAMENT
    Symbol, Other Symbol, Dingbats
  19. U+275C ‹❜› HEAVY SINGLE COMMA QUOTATION MARK ORNAMENT
    Symbol, Other Symbol, Dingbats
  20. U+A78C ‹ꞌ› LATIN SMALL LETTER SALTILLO
    Is Script=Latin, Letter, Cased Letter, Lowercase Letter, Lowercase
  21. U+FF07 ‹'› FULLWIDTH APOSTROPHE
    Punctuation, Other Punctuation, Changes When NFKC Casefolded, Quotation Mark
  22. U+FF40 ‹`› FULLWIDTH GRAVE ACCENT
    Symbol, Modifier Symbol, Changes When NFKC Casefolded, Diacritic

For those using a Mac keyboard, you can enter the correct U+2019 character by using the SHIFT + ALT + ] keystroke combination.

  • "you have shown only an image full of pixels instead of a bit of computer text whose values we could analyse" Um, I copypasted it from the subtitles file, it's the very first line. – puppon -su Dec 16 '17 at 14:30
  • @puppon-su My apologies for having overlooked that. I shall amend my answer accordingly. – tchrist Dec 17 '17 at 4:18
1

It looks like typo mistake. It should be apostrophe and sentence should be like

Let us pray for our husband's long lives.

Backquote is not fitted in this sentence.

  • 3
    It can actually be Let us pray for our husbands' long lives. as well, making the mistake indeed a pure typo and not even a grammatical mistake. – oerkelens Dec 15 '17 at 12:23
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    This answer would only work for one shared husband with many lives. The apostrophe should be after the s – Chris H Dec 15 '17 at 12:46
  • Context: it is sung by a group of girls. So, husbands' is probably correct. – puppon -su Dec 15 '17 at 14:06
  • 1
    Please edit your posting to fix the grammar: one cannot say "is not fitted" to mean "does not fit". – tchrist Dec 15 '17 at 15:59

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