Zotero changes a unidirectional mark (') to curly apostrophes in Russian transliterated titles

edited July 4, 2019
The rules of English transliteration for texts in Russian and Ukrainian require to use a prime (unidirectional mark) instead of a single smart or "curly" quote. My database contains titles with primes. However, in both footnotes and bibliography, Zotero changes a prime to a single smart quote. It seems like I can't get Zotero to produce titles with primes even if I switch off in Word the autocorrect option "'Straight Quotes' with 'Smart Quotes'." All such entries are marked as "Language: Russian" (or Ukrainian) in the database. I use Chicago full note citation style, but regardless, the rules of transliteration stay the same for any citation style. I would appreciate any advice on this matter.
  • The first question would be whether these strings use a distinct Unicode character for this purpose, or a simple straight quote.

    Assumimg the latter, can you post a sample or two to show the positions in which primes appear? I'll be curious whether they appear with space before, space after, no surrounding space, and in the characters immediately adjacent.

    Too early to say for certain, but it is possible that a clean solution to this will not be possible in Zotero. The Jurism variant of Zotero supports language- and script-tagging of individual fields, something might be done there.
  • For example, is the prime most properly specified using the ‘prime’ character? https://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/char/2032/index.htm
  • edited July 5, 2019
    Thank you for your comments. Here is more information:
    1) I am not exactly sure whether publishers use a prime (U+2032) or a straight quote, but the explanation on the character that is used in Russian transliterated texts calls the character "a prime": http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~tarn/courses/translit-table.html
    But it seems that either (a prime or a straight single quote) should look fine in transliterated names/titles from Cyrillic - I am not a publisher, and both characters (a prime (U+2032) and a straight quote) look pretty similar to me.

    2) Given that a prime substitutes a particular letter in the Cyrillic alphabet (the soft sign - "ь"; and a double prime - the hard sign - "ъ", ugh, I know), the placement of this character can be literally anywhere in the transliterated text, except for the beginning of the word; and a space may or may not follow this character (but a prime is never preceded by a space). Please see some examples here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17lfbJg5v27k1Lf75ae5QWrDe-pPt3e6R?usp=sharing
    In all these texts a prime or a straight quote (i.e., the desirable look) is highlighted in yellow and what Zotero does is highlighted in green.

    I might be wrong, but it seems that it should be possible to make some changes in Zotero which would allow not to substitute single or double quotes with "curly" ones, if the source is marked as Russian (or any other language that uses Cyrillic) in the database. After all, the issue with capitalization of titles works perfectly based on the language of the source (the rules of title capitalization in Slavic languages are also different--there, only first world in the title plus proper names are capitalized). And titles for Slavic sources in Zotero have been capitalized (or rather, not capitalized, heh) correctly, if the source is marked as "Language: Russian" (or any other Slavic language) in the database. This makes me think that there might be a possibility to retain straight quotes for only those sources that are marked as "Slavic languages." Many thanks!
  • Looked into this some more—it is the prime and double prime characters that are used. Discussed a bit here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_(symbol)

    Obviously, the most direct path would be for the user to type the actual prime/double prime characters, but an alternative substitution method would be nice if possible.
  • I can look into this if there is some test data to work from. To submit data, join this public library, sync it locally, drag a few (two or three) relevant entries into it, and either illustrate or explain the correct result in the Abstract field or a note attachment. Sync the items up to zotero.org, and I'll take a look when I'm able.
  • So I was able to figure the solution for the issue, which turned out to be a simple one. It turned out that an online transliteration tool that I have been using for years, instead of putting a prime into transliterations, puts a single straight quote, which is obviously a wrong way to transliterate Cyrillic. But being unaware of this issue, I ended up having titles with single straight quotes in Zotero. Manually changing all single quotes to primes (U+2032) in transliterated texts in Zotero fixed the problem, which was not even a Zotero issue. Thanks everyone for their suggestions and willingness to help!
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