Logical punctuation: A response to Slate article

Posted: May 13, 2011 in All, Prose
Tags: , , ,

In response to:


Should we start placing commas outside quotation marks? Published in Slate 5/12/11

I feel ambivalent about this.

Yes, it makes sense to keep an entire unit together, meaning that everything within a quote should not be separated. Indeed, the point of punctuation is to keep thoughts separate when necessary.

It would also make it a lot easier to quote someone quoting someone else:

Current way: “I was talking to the mayor, and he said ‘Do it,’ ” the policeman said.

Other way: “I was talking to the mayor, and he said ‘Do it’,” the policeman said.

However, I think there are serious problems with arguments put forth by the author, Ben Yagoda.

As evidence, he uses the magazine he’s being published in, Slate, which is kind of self-serving and honestly, some (far from all) of the articles I’ve read in that magazine aren’t of the same caliber as The New York Post or Washington Times.

Also, a Conan O’Brien post, articles on Metafilter, and bulletin boards as proof of a shift in trends. OK. But people get things wrong all the time. These are probably the same people who get there, their and they’re wrong.

It also implies that people are writing that way intentionally. He said they’re writing the British way. I don’t think they know they’re wrong. I don’t think they know it’s the British way.

Yes, language and writing changes over centuries. And yes, most people probably won’t even realize there is a difference. But I’ll keep writing that way for now, until it’s officially wrong.


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