a, b, and c OR a, b and c

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jason L., Oct 25, 2006.

  1. andrew markworthy

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    Yee-Ming, apologies ... Clearly the American imperialist double quotation mark has cast its net further than I thought. Thank goodness the UK never had such imperial ambitions ... [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    In British publishing, single quotation marks should always be used when quotation marks are needed. The only exception is when you have quotation marks within a set of quotation marks (e.g. somebody is being quoted quoting somebody else), when the double quotation marks are used for the 'internal' quotation. The USA and other countries have different rules on this. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' usage (or "right" or "wrong" for that matter).
     
  2. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    When I went to school, which is a considerable time ago, spelling things different from how you were taught was indeed a "fault" and could result in a lower qualification or having to correct it.
    Since I left school, I'm free to do it as I please, and my only concern now is to make my writings as understandable to others as can be.

    That said, we were indeed told NOT to have commas in front or after the words "and" and "or", unless necessary to resolve an ambiguity.

    In Dutch the rules for the apostrophe-s and the plural s are quite different, so I won't discuss that.

    Ah, the quotes. There was a distinction between printed quotes and written quotes (in those days children, we didn't normally have keyboards, but rather something called a pen and stuff called ink). When writing, the opening quote was placed at the bottom level of the line, so it had to be what you people call the 'double quote', because else it would be indistinguishable from a comma. The teacher when reading the lines you had to write down would pronounce this as "open quote signs" (aanhalingstekens openen), 'blah, blah, blah, blah', "close quote signs" (aanhalingstekens sluiten).

    Punctuation only goes inside the quoted part if it is part of it.
    Thus:
    - "Do you like rice?"
    - "No sir, not a bit!"

    But:
    He was rather hesitant when he said "I really don't like this".

    In the latter case, the closing period belongs to the sentence surrounding the quoted line, which is part of that. The quoted line could have been closed with a period too, but that would be very ugly. If the quoted line would have a need for a different closing character (e.g. an exclamation mark) you act to your best judgement. Bottom line would be not to make it more complicated than aesthetically justifiable.
    In difficult cases, change the construction of your sentence (When he said "I really don't like this!", he was rather hesitant. This is not considered a big improvement, because of the need to add a comma.).

    This is how we were taught.


    Cees
     
  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Cees:

    Very interesting. I think what you and Andrew have posted about how English grammar is taught in places outside the U.S. has been very illuminating.

    I had to check and see if William Strunk had been educated in the UK. He was not. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1890 and then his PhD from Cornell (where he taught English for 46 years) in 1896.

    It's too bad there isn't just one set of rules accepted by all. It would make life easier...but, I suppose, much more bland. The things I have learned communicating on this forum with people from outside my own country have been incredible. Vive la difference!

    In the example you use:


    shouldn't you have a comma after "said"? Or, is that different, too?
     
  4. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Cinematographer

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    I believe in the US it would be inside the quotes. If memory serves, this is what we were taught at university using the Harbrace Handbook.
     
  5. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    No, I don't think so. For a moment I hesitated if they didn't prescribe a colon in those days:

    He was rather hesitant when he said: "I really don't like this".

    I think they (we) did, but, at least presently, that looks a bit overdone to me.


    BTW, in England they pronounce your sentence like "shouldn't you have a commer after "said"?". Also did you notice I cannot really use quotes or double quotes to quote it properly? [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    The reason I ask is because the great Professor Strunk has the following rule:

     
  7. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    I'm afraid the great Professor Strunk isn't that great in my country. [​IMG]
    Nor do we implement any Oxford-character rule.


    Cees
     
  8. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    [​IMG]
     
  9. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I find the colon a must in this case. But a comma has absolutely no business in that phrase. This from a comma ho [​IMG].

    --
    H
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    It appears that people are taught different rules, but as is prescribed in many circles in the U.S., the comma is required in:

     
  11. andrew markworthy

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    With reference to commas before opening quotation marks: I was taught in junior school (7-11 yrs) that a comma should be used, and then at senior school that it should not. The comma is meant to indicate a slight pause because you are entering a new part of the sentence. However, some authorities believe that the sight of the opening quotation marks gives sufficient indication of this (on the same grounds that you should never put a comma before the opening of parentheses).

    Cees - I'd forgotten about the use of double quotation marks in handwriting ('66' and '99' as we learnt to call them to remember where the quotation marks with the dots at the bottom went). We were told that it was so that the teacher could tell we knew the different between a quotation mark and an inverted comma.

    With regard to what goes inside the quotation marks and what doesn't, Cees has given an accurate description of the way Europeans treat the subject. American English differs on this. I know, because writing for American publishers (academic journals, etc) is a pain. The spelling isn't too bad (I have an American spellchecker that can tackle that problem). However, I never get all nuances to US punctuation correct. With one of my regular US publishers they've told me to stop trying, because it's easier to deal with English punctuation than it is to deal with a half-assed amalgum of Brit and US punctuation.
     
  12. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    [​IMG]


    Mike,

    The first comma really looks ridiculous to us. It's a part of the whole sentence, certainly not the quoted one.

    "Why", I asked, "do you always forget to do it?"

    This would be acceptable over here (even the missing period, I guess, not sure about that, though). [​IMG]
    In our logic, the quotes really mean to quote.


    Cees
     
  13. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Maybe what we are humbly stumbling towards is the need for an International Punctuation Summit. [​IMG]
     

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