Punctuation/Quotes -Reply

Subject: Punctuation/Quotes -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 17:11:45 -0800

George Allaman writes:

I vividly remember, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, being taught
never to include punctuation that ends a sentence in quotes of a
phrase, and although I have adapted, it has never felt right.

"No," she said, "I hate punctuation." (Correct and okay by me)

She thinks he's a "flash in the pan." (Apparently correct but I hate

I would like it to be: She thinks he's a "flash in the pan".

What's wrong is that you are using good honest quotation marks either
for emphasis or out of some discomfort with the phrase. This is like
a homeless person using a shopping cart for a suitcase. It's done
and doable but it isn't what the originators intended.

My rule of thumb for timid non-writers who want to put non-quotes in
quotation marks is to tell them to stand up, throw their quote marks
away (like a healed cripple throws away his crutches), and have the
courage of their convictions. Hallelujah! If you like the words,
stand up and use them proudly, possibly after first checking your
good dictionary. It's really a situation thing. Sometimes the words
the timid non-writer chooses aren't the best the can be, and that's
the feeling the writer is disguising, and so we work together to try
to phrase the thought in words the TNW can be proud of. At other
times, the quotation mark slinger (often a manager or an engineer)
may want to emphasize something like a button (On) or a menu choice
(Cut). Here I would drag out the typography megilla of bold face,
italics, underlining, and color and see what I can negotiate. That's

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com

"correct" version is illogical to me. The period marks the end of the
sentence, not the quoted phrase (or word, in this case). Not that
language was ever logical. Does anybody agree?

|George Allaman | |
|Tech Writer | <clever, meaningful |
|Denver, Colorado | quip which somehow |
|Office (303) 624-1619 | summarizes my life |
|Home (303) 771-8060 | philosophy> |
|Alternate: georgea -at- csn -dot- net | |

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