[tex-k] ambiguous paragraph in The METAFONTbook

dine 2500418497 at qq.com
Mon Apr 13 18:51:10 CEST 2020

The third paragraph on page 167 of The METAFONTbook is potentially ambiguous. It first speaks of "the longest syntactically correct <primary>, <secondary>, <tertiary>, or <expression>", and here the word "or" is clearly part of the English sentence. But then it speaks of "the longest syntactically correct <expression> of <primary>", where the word "of" is really part of the METAFONT language, but happens to be typeset in roman type and indistinguishable from the English. The rest of the paragraph solves such ambiguities by enclosing METAFONT fragments in quotation marks, for example in the sentence "METAFONT also allows '(<suffix>)' in this case, but not '=<suffix>' or ':=<suffix>'", so I see no reason not to apply the same treatment to "<expression> of <primary>" in the ambiguous sentence. (The problem is still present according to the latest version of mfbook.tex on the CTAN; I'm not sure if it's been fixed in later printings. Sorry if it has.)
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