Plenken is a German typographical term for the insertion of inappropriate spaces before a punctuation mark.
Its counterpart is Klempen, the incorrect omission of a space after punctuation marks.
Plenken is derived as a borrowed word from the English blank. Its antonym klempen combines plenken and klemmen ("to clamp"), exchanging the K and P in such a way as to suggest both phonetically and orthographically its relationship and opposite meaning.
Both are internet coinages, dating from Johannes "Jödel" Leckebusch's introduction of plenken on MausNet in 1988 and now widely used on German newsgroups.
Plenken was once a common practice in Germany due to the standard German typing approximation of the traditional spacing rules, which use a variety of different-width spaces and which insert a thin space or hairspace between words and most punctuation marks. With the introduction of the typewriter and its fixed-width space, English-language typists removed most spaces around punctuation marks, but some other languages' typists, including French and German, did not.
Simplistic computer tools typically mishandle plenken by treating them as ordinary whitespace, potentially inserting incorrect linebreaks and wrapping the punctuation mark onto the next line, rendering the text difficult to read. More sophisticated computer tools have French spacing modes which automatically change plenked spaces to special typographic spaces such as the espace fine insécable (non-breaking thin space). However, such spacing behaviour is not necessarily replicated for other languages and their typists must manually enter non-breaking spaces (option-space in any Macintosh application, but application-specific in other operating systems).
Plenken is increasingly discouraged among German-language typists.
- Das war der schönste Tag meines Lebens !
- Ich behaupte, dass das falsch ist .
- Illustrating word-wrapping problems:
- You are here ! I am here
- , too ! You are just plenking
- e.g. Daniel Sprenger (2007-03-10) Desktop-Publishing Weblog – Typografische Verbrechen: Plenken und Klempen