Punctuating quotation at end of sentence - Page 2

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Thread: Punctuating quotation at end of sentence

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    In U.S. English, punctuation goes outside the quotation:

    Mark Twain once said, "Blah blah blah."
    I think you mean inside...and as always, there's an exception to the rule. If the sentence itself does not share the punctuation of the quoted text, that punctuation remains outside the quotation marks.

    What did you think of "The Charge of the Light Brigade"?

    Because the poem's title does not include the question mark, the question mark is not included within the quotation marks. Further complicating matters, it's possible to use two separate punctuation marks if the they don't agree.

    Yesterday, I finished reading "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?".

    I'm fairly certain on that last example, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
    "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

    "I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story." - Tom Clancy

  2. #12
    To make any sense of the rules about punctuation and quotes we have to think about what it is that is being quoted. In dialogue we are normally reporting what was spoken, so we are free to apply our own spelling and punctuation during the transcription from spoken to written words. No doubt an American writer would use American spelling when writing dialogue spoken by a British character but hopefully not when quoting something written by him. We have to pay attention to the tag verbs then. "He said" and "He wrote" present the writer with different duties whereas "He stated" allows the writer more scope to be less precise. For this same reason slipping different punctuation into dialogue is permissible whereas quotation of something originally written ought to be done accurately in respect of both spelling and punctuation, I surmise.

    There are always exceptions to prove the rule of course. Elsewhere in these forums I read a dialogue carried on through text messages, so the punctuation there had to reflect the medium used to maintain the realism. Equally I have no idea how anyone would transcribe Victor Borg's hilarious "phonetic punctuation" stage acts.

    Inevitably I included a test case of accurate quotation in my own novel just to prove that the problem is insurmountable. In it a girl with a hare on her head is talking about the hair on her head, or perhaps she is referring to the hare on her head. How could I possibly report her spoken words without adding something to the interpretation by my spelling? As I write in third person subjective I chose to spell the word as the POV person hearing it interpreted it. This is a general problem where puns are possible. The way that we spell the punned word may indicate whether the pun was intentional or accidental. How many times have we accidentally punned in our own speech and then tried to convince others that it wasn't intended?

    By the way, I also did the opposite, writing a word in dialogue that could be pronounced two different ways with different meanings, so the reader couldn't actually tell what the character had said. In fact both meanings were equally appropriate in their way but I hope that nobody ever asks me to read out that part of the story.

    Point of view is always an important factor in writing but when we include quotations we have the added task of considering whose words, whose spelling and whose punctuation we are reporting and these three can be independent of each other. The article that I mentioned here previously was about rules for newspaper reporters, who must take particular care with their quotations, but even in our fiction we have to take care about the exact information that we are imparting to the reader.

    That's just my logical view of the situation as an information technologist though. Writers often seem to prefer conventions to logic.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
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  3. #13
    Member walker's Avatar
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    May 2015
    Nomad, currently in the desert
    I learned (many moons ago, probably wrong) that another factor is whether or not the quote is a complete sentence, phrase, or just a couple of words.

    Your article states, "The decision was extremely inappropriate."

    Your article states that the decision was "extremely inappropriate".

    I think my English teacher would have said (she's probably not still alive, and I'm probably misremembering, so I hope she forgives me), that you wouldn't want to elevate the two words "extremely inappropriate", taken out of context, to a construction deserving of punctuation.

    Heck, I'll just come out and say it. I know I'm wrong. But that's what they taught me.
    ...taking a trip, not taking a trip...

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