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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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35.2 Syntax Descriptors

This section describes the syntax classes and flags that denote the syntax of a character, and how they are represented as a syntax descriptor, which is a Lisp string that you pass to modify-syntax-entry to specify the syntax you want.

The syntax table specifies a syntax class for each character. There is no necessary relationship between the class of a character in one syntax table and its class in any other table.

Each class is designated by a mnemonic character, which serves as the name of the class when you need to specify a class. Usually the designator character is one that is often assigned that class; however, its meaning as a designator is unvarying and independent of what syntax that character currently has. Thus, `\' as a designator character always gives "escape character" syntax, regardless of what syntax `\' currently has.

A syntax descriptor is a Lisp string that specifies a syntax class, a matching character (used only for the parenthesis classes) and flags. The first character is the designator for a syntax class. The second character is the character to match; if it is unused, put a space there. Then come the characters for any desired flags. If no matching character or flags are needed, one character is sufficient.

For example, the syntax descriptor for the character `*' in C mode is `. 23' (i.e., punctuation, matching character slot unused, second character of a comment-starter, first character of a comment-ender), and the entry for `/' is `. 14' (i.e., punctuation, matching character slot unused, first character of a comment-starter, second character of a comment-ender).

35.2.1 Table of Syntax Classes  Table of syntax classes.
35.2.2 Syntax Flags  Additional flags each character can have.

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