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...to the already exhaustive discussion, an observation
from without: The Brits have the convention in direct
discourse (read, written dialogue) that says, single quotes
first, with nested quotations in double quotes -- just the
opposite of American standard. I have to admit after just
reading R. Pirsig's second crack at Quality, "Lila", redone
for the European market, that it threw me to see:
'Lila appeared at the hatch door and asked, "Want
a cup of coffee?"'
But it might be a point to consider for int'l. audiences
(again, read 'schooled in Acquired (Queen's) English' that
enclosing literal terms ("...in place of "file name", enter
'filename'. ...") in single quotes/apostrophes is a more
universal choice than double quotes (or 'stops', as the
lads like to say). And it seems more liketly to be the case
that, should someone read the fly specks and even enter the
value 'filename' with single quotes, most parsers will not
get upset about it. They're often built to take optional
single quotes for alphanumeric literals or leave 'em. But
that's not the case if someone enters "filename" with all
its bells and whistles.
By the bye, if you've got a Fowler's (I don't advocate -- it's
just closer at the moment than the Harper Handbook), the
thing has an incredibly uncharacteristic lassaiz-ness about
punct. within or without, referring to the conventional vs.
logical school. To wit: when the punct. actually belongs to
the quoted item, the logical school puts it inside the quotes;
otherwise, outside. Whereas the conventional school does just
as your intransigent editor does. Then, Fowler's goes on to
point up the fact that dogmatic "punctuation within" is, in
fact, apparently an American phenomenon, since _neither_
of these British schools would say, "Did you say "I'm not
my brother's keeper?", but rather 'Did you say, "I'm not
my brother's keeper"?'...
Ugh. No one should beat a dead horse this long. ANy shorter