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27.5 The Syntax Table

All the Emacs commands which parse words or balance parentheses are controlled by the syntax table. The syntax table specifies which characters are opening delimiters, which are parts of words, which are string quotes, and so on. Actually, each major mode has its own syntax table (though sometimes related major modes use the same one) which it installs in each buffer that uses that major mode. The syntax table installed in the current buffer is the one that all commands use, so we call it “the” syntax table. A syntax table is a Lisp object, a vector of length 256 whose elements are numbers.