Thursday, August 21, 2014

Overheard in the Office...

Me: "Huh. There's a browser extension that replaces the word 'literally' with 'figuratively'."

RX: "I literally love that."

Then we got in an argument about whether or not periods should ever be put outside quotation marks. (She's American, but I'm right.) It's hard to find people who are actually passionate enough about this stuff to hold strong opinions on the topic.
.

36 comments:

Wayne said...

Yes, you're "right".

billf said...

I have always thought that,since the comma ends the phrase,and the period ends the sentence,the period should come after the quotation mark,or else the quotation mark is actually part of the next sentence.
And don't you mean that you're correct,not you're right?
Unless you mean you're right,as opposed to left.

Kendal Black said...

Placing the period inside the quotes is what is known as a "typographical convention." The idea is to provide a smooth and consistent reading experience.

You might not like it, but if it bothers you, you can end your sentences with question marks. In that case the rules are a bit freer.


:^)

Sigivald said...

Inside the quotation marks if the period is being quoted.

Outside if the period is not.

I don't care what any outdated, typesetting-with-hand-cut-letters-era style manual says; that's plainly logically correct.

Paul said...

Well, I might have an opinion, but I am sure there is rule to define the conditions that could occur somewhere.

Most likely under that handy highlight to have on the word "right".

Rob K said...

Sigivald is correct. Ask any compiler. Quotes demark and contain literal strings.

Sherm said...

I'm looking forward to a discussion of the Oxford comma.

Paul Schwa said...

To quote "The Elements of Style" by Strunk & White: "Typographical usage dictates that the comma be inside the marks, though logically it often seems not to belong there." This applies to periods as well.

Outdated or no, punctuation rules were developed to avoid guessing.


chiefjaybob said...

Right or wrong, I will go to my grave putting punctuation inside the quotes. When I read, it just looks wrong to me otherwise. My 8th grade English teacher hated computers strictly for this reason. She hated that it was forcing the punctuation marks outside.

bluesun said...

It's that doggone question mark that always throws me for a loop.

CarlosT said...

Paul, the S&W rules lead to more guessing, not less. Is that comma or period there in the source, or was it added? In the style preferred by the traditionalists, there's no way to know. In the other system, you know that if the punctuation is in the quotes, it's original, anything outside the quotes is from the author.

Bubblehead Les. said...

So, what Caliber for Semi-colons?

Bubblehead Les. said...

So, what Caliber for Semi-colons?

Rick C said...

Sherm, what's to debate? If you don't use the Oxford comma, you're a commie.

D.W. Drang said...

I haz a sad: At one time the use of "literally" to mean "I speak figuratively, of course", was cited as an example of Catachresis, and I got a blog post out of it, but apparently the times (or The Times) are a'changin'...

Also, I literally have an urge to yell "Get off my lawn!" at anyone who speaks of how their 8th Grade Teacher felt about computers...

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Without a doubt, you are "right". And "correct", even.

I used to work with a technical writer who "corrected" me every time I did that. Irked me no end, because she was WRONG.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

As far as Calmer Half's novels go, whatever provides a better reading experience. Which seems to be inside the quotation marks.

Windy Wilson said...

In the Ninth Grade, back when Dinosaurs walked the earth with Leftists and man had yet to simulate walking on the moon (and before Michael Jackson moonwalked, but after Jimmy Durante did), I took a graphic arts class that involved not only making one's own silk screen stencils, but setting genuine moveable type of the lead variety that one retrieved from the type case. It was explained that there was some sort of breakage problem with putting the period after the quotation mark.
Not that that made any more sense than how the type was arranged in
the "California case."
the "California case".

Windy Wilson said...

To be serious though, this dispute disturbs me a whole lot less than the problems with homonyms (There, Their, They're), Affect/Effect, Lose/Loose, and Apostrophe's.

Armed Texan said...

Paul Schwa,

Bad rules were made to be ignored and "The Elements of Style" is prescriptivist drivel.

Paul Schwa said...

I worked as a print typographer and graphic artist for over 25 years. Over 10 years as a copy editor and proofreader.
The reason for this "American" style is largely typographic and makes perfect sense for reasons too esoteric to delve onto here. Let's just say "it's a visual thing" standardized when almost all body copy (text) was set justified flush left AND right, as opposed to "ragged right" which has become the default norm in our digital era.

That being said, personally, I agree with the usage described by Sigivald above.

Archer said...

Big fan of "logical punctuation".

Like Sigivald says, if the quote contains the comma or period, it should be included in the quotation marks; if it doesn't, it shouldn't. And like Rob K says, quotation marks contain literal strings. If you request and get an e-mail saying "your temporary password is 'password,' do you need that comma as part of the temp password or don't you? The computer has an opinion on that, style-be-damned!

Logically, if you include the punctuation in the quotation marks, the assumption is that it was part of the quoted material. If that's not the case, you're intentionally misquoting because of an out-dated style convention. Call me a stickler for honesty and clarity, but I'll take quote accuracy over "good grammar" any day.

Armed Texan said...

Paul Schwa,

Idiotic rules are meant to be ignored. "The Elements of Style" is the epitome of prescriptivist drivel.

staghounds said...

"...which readers of Virginia Woolf and The Guardian will recognize as the British style...".

That's as far as I could get.

Paul Schwa said...

Armed Texan,
A careful reading of White's preface to his revised edition of Strunk's mini opus makes it very clear that what is presented are opinions.

Opinions are always open to debate. The "rules" of grammar are always evolving. Strunk conceded that his "rule" about including punctuation within quotes was based upon typographic convention.

I've already agreed with Sigivald's logic on the matter, but the typographer in me cringes at punctuation hanging beyond the quotes. That's just my training.

Good typography is all about using type to communicate information with ease, with a minimum amount of eye strain. But that's something that someone whose blog uses white sans serif type against a solid black background obviously does not understand.

Anonymous said...

While I am not familiar with "The Elements of Style", I do remember using the "Chicago Manual of Style" when I was working on a History Degree (never finished). The Chicago Manual had us approach the problem in the manner Sigivald has described. If it were for grade, and done differently, the outcome would be deleterious.

Sam Helm

billf said...

Yeah,what Sigivald said,except that,if the period is part of the quote,and is included in the quotation marks,and if the phrase being quoted is the end of the sentence which contains the quotation,then you still need a period after the end quote to close the sentence.
Example...The president said "Blah,blah,blah,and good night.".

billf said...

I wrote my previous comment off the top of my head,and then I looked to see if I could find back-up for my opinion,and I see "grammer-monster" says that's the UK method of double punctuation,not acceptable in the US.
Oh well.

Able said...

I only come here so as to be reassured that I'm neither as much of an exception, or as anally retentive, as I thought I was.

Isn't the Interwebz wonderful?

Call me pedantic if you wish but I was taught, many years ago (you youngsters have no idea how hard it was learning all those runes. Or how heavy my satchel was with a spare chisel) that a period is not included in a quotation, since it's assumed. A triple period is included however if there isn't a period at the end of the quotation, to signify such. Or am I wrong?

(Just waiting for someone to critique the punctuation of my previous paragraph. To which I shall loftily reply, possibly at a tangent, that Lieutenant I'd pronounced with a 'left' – get that right and we'll talk).

WindRider said...

As Rob K said, ask any compiler. As a programmer, the period inside the quotes is 'unbalanced'—there is a beginning and and end to the sentence, and the period is coming before the end—and indicates that the period is being quoted and that the sentence is therefore still going on.

Of course, what I really like to do, is write stuff like "What the heck difference does it make?".

billf said...

RE: WindRider;The question that you pose in your last sentence occurred to me also,but it's still fun to play the game.

rickn8or said...

Thanks to you all I've found the courage to go "outside" from now on, "guilt free".

I can hear my high school English Comp teacher weeping quietly.

Opinionated Grump (Rich in NC) said...

I always thought that the period was inside the quotation mark or the paren because it was literally safer there than outside the other marks where it would be prone to break off during the blocking part of the printing process.

[But, then, I learned to read upside down and backwards when I set type in my high school communications class using that California Job Case that contained one font size of a particular Typeface (or something). Yes, there were still dinosaurs around.]


Rich in NC

chiefjaybob said...

If it's any consolation, it was 30 years ago.....

rickn8or said...

chiefjaybob, in my case it was forty-four years ago, before self-correcting IBM Selectrics, let alone word processors.

Annd I'm Officially Old.

Roberta X said...

The period goes inside the quotes, otherwise folks stumble on it and OSHA comes along and makes you put up cones and yellow/black striped barrier tape around it.

Surely that's obvious?