Re: Punctuation problem

Subject: Re: Punctuation problem
From: Eleanor Rizzo <decrsc!ejr -at- UUNET -dot- UU -dot- NET>
Date: Sun, 9 May 1993 16:45:39 -0400

Greg Kushmerek writes:

> It concerns the double quote and end punctuation in a sentence. While it
> makes sense that a semi-colon follows a double quote at the end of a
> quotation, it doesn't make sense that a period falls within a double
> quote.

Your engineer is correct--it's not logical. But who said the English language
was logical!

From what I understand, the practice of including the period and the comma
within the quote is an old printing practice. Periods and commas were fragile
and small pieces of type, and to keep them from breaking off during the
printing process, they were tucked inside of the quote, which was a more
substantial piece of type. This old printing practice has become part of
the tradition of written communication. Like many traditional practices, it
doesn't necessarily make sense from a logical (mathematical) point of view.
However, its meaning is commonly understood. I believe this practice has
remained part of the tradition because it was understood and there was no
need to change it in the name of improved communication.

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