May 21st, 2004


userinfo senji
2004/05/21 23:54:00 - Quotation Marks...
Hmm, I've just had a discussion, armed with Fowler, with enismirdal who insists "Punctuation always comes before the quotes"; but other than the authoritarianistical approach of saying "This is what Fowler says" and a couple of ambiguities that I can think of, I can't think of a good reason why what she says is wrong...

Help anyone?
Current Mood: [mood icon] geeky

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userinfo tienelle
[userpic]
2004/05/21 16:05:45
Merkins are, I think, quite keen on punctuation that's being quoted going inside the quotes, so everything's nice and literal. This is sensible and logical. Which is why we don't do it over here.
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userinfo senji
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2004/05/21 16:13:08
The line in question was (is):

"I'm sorry, James", he replied, answering the implicit question by stepping away from the door.

in which if it was punctuation that was being quoted it would be a '.' not a ',', but in fact the ',' there is part of the wider sentence punctuation, rather than being part of the quote.

There's a similar case in this entry (the entry that is, not this comment).
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userinfo aldabra
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2004/05/22 05:26:38
I was *definitely* taught that that comma goes inside the quotes. England, old-fashioned independent girls' school, several decades ago. Looks completely wrong to me your way (why do you need a comma outside at all, grammatically? Why not just '"I'm sorry, James" he said.'? Though that looks wrong to me too, but less wrong.). I'd use comma-inside when the original is comma or full-stop, and punctuation-outside if it's furniture from the surrounding sentence rather than the quote.
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userinfo andrewwyld
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2004/05/21 16:13:15
I think merkins also insert non-quoted punctuation inside a sentence, like "this is a sentence," which I think is non-logical, whereas if one said "this is a sentence.", although it looks a bit cumbersome, you know damn well what's actually been typed.
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userinfo andrewwyld
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2004/05/21 16:11:37
Apparently "punctuation should come between the quotes in American usage;" however, many people prefer that "only characters belonging to the string are enclosed in quotes"; moreover, apparently, British usage is like the latter.

I always have punctuation not belonging to the sentence outside the quotes.  Of course, it's possible to insert a question into a sentence, for example, "why should it be so?", which means you actually have punctuation on both sides of the quote mark.

Frankly, who cares?  It'll all be different in a decade anyway.  Bet you a fiver.
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userinfo yrieithydd
2004/05/21 16:26:45
Questions are a good example to think about in regard to this question. I'm sure it would be possible to think of examples where the meaning is different when the question mark is enclosed within the quote and when it is without it. However, I'm not sure I can come up with one at the moment. Probably because it is bedtime for yr ieithwyr.
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userinfo mtbc100
2004/05/21 16:36:27
In the US the punctuation seems to go inside the quotes even if it's not actually being quoted. It looks awfully silly, but Fowler won't be a good guide for American usage. It pains me slightly to have to write like that for American readers.
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userinfo ewx
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2004/05/21 16:58:24
Every time you put the quotes in the wrong place, God kills a prescriptivist.
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userinfo mobbsy
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2004/05/22 06:34:47
"Every" "time" "you" "put" "the" "quotes" "in" "the" "wrong" "place", "God" "kills" "a" "prescriptivist" "."

k3wl
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userinfo mhw
[userpic]
2004/05/21 19:28:34
I'm so happy when I discover people who know what a semicolon is that it feels as though worrying about the niceties of punctuation-within versus -without would be straining at gnats. These things are mere convention, after all.

The only time at which one need go against one's natural feelings about such things is when one must conform to 'house style' for publications.
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userinfo skloak
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2004/05/21 22:09:17
According to what I was taught, and all the grammar and punctuation books over here, punctuation goes inside the quotes. For instance: "And today," he said, "we'll be going on a picnic." Or, "..we'll be going on a picnic." he said. If it's a question: "Would you like to go on a picnic?" he asked. That's correct usage, as is taught all across the country. People who are, say, programmers, and get taught 'don't put it inside the quotes unless it belongs there, or you'll screw up your program' tend to overwrite the previous learning with the new, and stop punctuating inside quotes. But not in composition classes, because they'll get marked down for it. So, if you ask me, she's completely right, and while you follow the programmer's convention, technically you're wrong.

Is it not the same over there? I know you quote in a different order.. ' first, then " inside it. But I'd always been under the impression the punctuation rules were international, so far as English goes.
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userinfo khendon
2004/05/22 01:22:13
I think the order of quote marks is a bit random these days, but punctuation *is* supposed to go outside the quotes. I've heard the only reason you do it your way is that it makes it easier to print using bits of lead.
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userinfo mtbc100
2004/05/22 05:20:26
Heh - no, punctuation rules aren't international. Europe mostly goes the British way. In terms of the order in which the punctuation occurs in the sentence, British punctuation would be like,

She had described it as being "heliotropic", so he pushed the button marked "sun".

And American would be like,

She had described it as being "heliotropic," so he pushed the button marked "sun."

I think I've seen a bit of both in Canada.

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userinfo king_of_wrong
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2004/05/22 08:06:55
I believe the notion of putting punctuation (of the outer sentence) within the quotes comes from typography, where it "looks slightly better" if the comma/full-stop end up directly below the quote mark. This is almost invariably not the case on modern printing systems, particularly computers using fixed-width fonts.

Me, I tend to quote strings literally (punctuation and all)... but that probably has more to do with years of programming.
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userinfo gioiaverdi
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2004/05/23 08:41:07
Well, I'm British, and everything I've ever been taught (and now teach) says that punctuation goes *inside* the quotes at the end of a quote and *outside* prior. Terminating punctuation belongs to the quoted sentence - either because the "he said" (or whatever) is an interjection into the quoted material, in which case it should be a comma if the sentence continues; or because the quotation is finished, in which case it should be a terminator - full stop, exclamation, questionmark or elipsis. No comma is necessary after the closing quotation mark, because there's a pause provided by the internal punctuation. Even with a terminator inside, however, if the quotation forms part of a longer outer sentence the word following takes a lower case letter (assuming its not a proper noun) as the quote marks act like parentheses. The pause before a quotation, however, belongs to the outer sentence, so must be punctuated there.

So:

"I'm sorry, James." he said.

Or

"I'm sorry, James," he said, "I didn't think of that."


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