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I came across a strange thing just now. I have a browser extension that creates and downloads an internet shortcut file (.url) of the current page. I used it on the following page, and the extension broke.

How do the tenses and aspects in English correspond temporally to one another?

When I examined the question title (and later the contents of the question), I noticed that there are many unnecessary ­ entities in the post. Here's a screenshot of the post content:

enter image description here

The extension is using the window/document title as the file name, and these entities are not allowed in a file name.

I checked the edits and saw that the last edit introduced these ­ entities, and I seem to fail to understand the need for them.

So I'm curious. Was this intentional? Or is it the result of some glitch?

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    ­ is HTML code for a soft hyphen. In a text there can be long words which you might want to line break with a hyphen. But you do not want the hyphen to show if the whole word is on the same line, so soft hyphens are inserted. Oct 28, 2021 at 15:28
  • @MichaelHarvey That answer the what, but I'm more interested in the why. For example, what's with the frequency? I don't think using it this frequent is normal. Also, it seems to be randomly inserted.
    – akinuri
    Oct 28, 2021 at 17:28
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    I think that some software is soft-hyphenating not randomly, but every word which is capable of hyphenation. Do you see hyphenation of words when the situation requires it, e.g. when resizing or zooming the browser? Oct 28, 2021 at 17:40
  • @MichaelHarvey Yes, I did. I didn't think that a software would be used to do the insertion. I just thought doing this manually would be tiring, so one wouldn't be tempted to do so. If it's a software, does that mean that the editor did the editing in some other software and then pasted the text into the question/browser? If so, I guess he gives it his all :)
    – akinuri
    Oct 28, 2021 at 21:25
  • Yes, I edited it using a different program. And your software should not be writing out filenames with invisible characters in them. This sounds like a bug. (BTW, there is no such thing as "a software" in English; you have to say "a program" instead.)
    – tchrist Mod
    Nov 22, 2021 at 1:27

2 Answers 2

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Your extension should be sanitizing whatever it uses for the file name. These are soft (or shy) hyphens, which create breaks inside words as needed, and there's no reason they couldn't be in post titles. (Much worse could also be in post titles...) These hyphens are just a typographical nicety like accents on letters or smart quotes. I'm sure the edit was intentional, as I've seen tchrist make similar formatting edits before.

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  • I'm doing sanitizing for common pitfalls, but this one is new (to me at least). I know about the entity, but didn't think it would be used this much in a text. Especially, thinking that the editor did this (manually) in the edit page. As Michael pointed out in his comment, the editor might have used a software, which would help a lot with the insertion.
    – akinuri
    Oct 28, 2021 at 21:42
  • Some web browsers can automatically insert soft hyphens into the words of text that they render from a web site. It requires a list of hyphenation rules for common words (a kind of dictionary). Oct 28, 2021 at 21:53
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Observe:

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • I don't remember ever using hypens for the line breaks (unless I'm actually writing using pen/paper). Not a fan of breaking words. I usually wrap or justify the lines. Anyway, here's a recording of my experiment with the hypens :)
    – akinuri
    Oct 28, 2021 at 21:50

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