Single vs double quotes?

Subject: Single vs double quotes?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 08:49:45 -0400


David O'Brien reports: <<I've always considered singles to be either
apostrophes, possessives, or used in cases where doubles are already used,
eg., quotes with speech, etc. I wouldn't, for example, consider singles as
'normal'. I would, however, consider doubles as "normal".>>

I can tell which side of the Atlantic you're on simply from how you phrased
that question. <g> British works most often start with singles, then use
double quotes inside the singles if required; North Americans reverse that
order. Both use single quotes as apostrophes and possessives. And the
French? They use chevrons instead (<< and >>, only special characters rather
than less than and greater than signs), along the American line, and don't
form possessives with an apostrophe.

Most varieties of English also use what are sometimes called "scare" quotes
(as I just did) to make a word stand out. Sometimes that's the author's way
of saying that the word is being used as some group uses it (as I just did
in quoting those who call this practice "scare" quotes); sometimes it's a
clue that the word is being used in a different context than its usual
grammatical role (e.g., in this example, the "the" in quotes is being used
as a noun, not an article).

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/usersadvocate.html
"Writing, in a way, is listening to the others' language and reading with
the others' eyes."--Trinh T. Minh-Ha, "Woman native other"

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