Single vs double quotes? (take II)

Subject: Single vs double quotes? (take II)
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 11:52:31 -0400


Grail responded to my suggestion that Brits start with single quotes whereas
North Americans use doubles: <<I'm not convinced that this generalisation is
the case (about which side of the Atlantic uses which quotes). Certainly
'respected' news sites
such as the Times and the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/) quote statements by
starting and ending with double quotes.>>

Hmmm... I was basing my comments on my most recent round of reading British
fiction (Terry Pratchett's "Thief of Time" in this case) plus memories of
other British stuff I've read recently (didn't check the dates), but perhaps
I overgeneralized. Any more British writers or editors care to weigh in on
this with statistics?

<<I was told... that American English writers place punctuation marks
outside of the quotation marks (Let's go
to the beach", Jane suggested) . In British English, that's regarded as
completely wrong.>>

I think you were misinformed. American punctuation tends to fall inside
quotes whether it was part of the quote or not (in literary quotes), whereas
British punctuation is also known as "logical" punctuation because it only
includes the punctuation between the quotes if it was present there in the
first place. (Both approaches usually include punctuation inside the quotes
for fictional dialogue.) But again, this is a matter of style, and different
publishers use different styles.

<< (So is the American English practice of including an entire sentence in
brackets, like this.)>>

That's not inherently wrong in any dialect of English that I'm familiar
with. It's a matter of style, and some style guides certainly consider
longwinded parenthetical statements awkward or wrong. So if you're editing
to follow one of those style guides, then yes, you'd be well-advised to
remove the brackets.

--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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