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Prefer the British Style of Quotation Mark Punctuation over the American

573 points18 hourserichgrunewald.com
teddyh11 hours ago

Hackers tend to use quotes as balanced delimiters like parentheses, much to the dismay of American editors. Thus, if “Jim is going” is a phrase, and so are “Bill runs” and “Spock groks”, then hackers generally prefer to write: “Jim is going”, “Bill runs”, and “Spock groks”. This is incorrect according to standard American usage (which would put the continuation commas and the final period inside the string quotes); however, it is counter-intuitive to hackers to mutilate literal strings with characters that don't belong in them. Given the sorts of examples that can come up in discussions of programming, American-style quoting can even be grossly misleading. When communicating command lines or small pieces of code, extra characters can be a real pain in the neck.

http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/writing-style.html

arp2427 hours ago

I've always written it in "British style" myself because that's what we do in Dutch and I never considered there might be another way to do things, and it wasn't until someone "corrected" me just a few years ago that I even noticed the "American style" exists, in spite of having read countless books and articles which use it. Even now, when reading something I don't really notice unless I pay attention to it.

Based on this, I think it doesn't really matter, either in aesthetics or clarity.

lenkite31 minutes ago

The British style is also consistent here. Question marks are outside the quotes in both styles.

GekkePrutser4 hours ago

Also, us Dutch get taught British English at school so it makes sense for us even in English.

arp2423 hours ago

Most non-native speakers don't really use "British" or "American" English anyway, but rather a mixture of both, not infrequently unaware that a particular word or phrase belongs to one or the other variant. My English girlfriend didn't know what "parenthesis" are for example; turns out it's very much an American thing – I had no idea – and it's brackets in British English apparently. There's been a few other confusions like this, and I still can't remember if "lift" is the American and "elevator" the British or vice-versa.

montag7 hours ago

I have to say, a career in software engineering has destroyed my enthusiasm for this typographically-motivated punctuation rule. And I had no idea it was just an American thing.

SllX11 hours ago

It’s an æsthetic choice in the end. If I could put the period below the quotation mark, then I would do so as I already do in writing.

ARandomerDude10 hours ago

> It’s an æsthetic choice in the end.

Æsthetic is misplaced pedantry, since the word comes from Greek through German, rather than Latin.

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=aesthetic

Igelau8 hours ago

> misplaced pedantry

Them's mighty strong words there.

> since the word comes from Greek through German, rather than Latin.

That's not a rule. Remember, this is language. It does seems like a dated spelling though, similar to "coöperate". It shows up in 19th century publishing.

+1
arp2427 hours ago
esquivalience9 hours ago

This is all sorts of meta.

+1
yosito9 hours ago
jschulenklopper4 hours ago

Meta is a four-letter word.

tablespoon9 hours ago

I just use American-style except in cases where it would introduce confusion, since it does in fact look better on the page.

robotresearcher7 hours ago

Not if you are used to the British style.

Here's something that might clinch it for you:

Does this "look better on the page"?

Does this "look better on the page?"

The former must be correct, since the quote was not a question, and turning it into one would not be a fair quotation. Why should its status as a question change where we put the end of sentence marker?

The same argument applies to the period, since the quoted phrase may not have included one.

pge7 hours ago

Note that both American and British usage put a question mark outside the quotation marks. Only periods and commas are placed within the quotation marks in American style.

gnicholas7 hours ago

Nit: unless the question mark is part of the quote itself.

He asked her, “do you prefer the American style?”

tablespoon5 hours ago

> Not if you are used to the British style.

It's not a "used to" thing. The British style introduces white space gaps that don't look good. It's like ending a sentence with a space .

> The former must be correct

IMHO, "correctness" in the sense of "here's exact the character string that occurred in that other document, and anything else is wrong," is kind of a programmer POV. A looser sense of correctness is perfectly fine.

robotresearcher4 hours ago

> The British style introduces white space gaps that don't look good.

Sure they do, to me. The comma you inserted between the end of the quote and the closing quotation mark looks bad to me, because I have a strong expectation of the opposite. That esthetic feeling you have is how 'used to' manifests.

Also the US spelling of 'esthetic' is ugly to those expecting 'aesthetic'. I'm sure the British spelling looks pretentious to Americans.

TechBro86159 hours ago

That’s why we have backticks for inline code to resolve this ambiguity.

Also, by this and the author’s argument, shouldn’t there actually be two periods? One inside the quote and one outside? (The author does address this, to their credit.).

runeks18 hours ago

As a programmer, I’d prefer a combination of the two:

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.”.

as I think it’s weird that a punctuation mark inside a quote can end the sentence that contains the quote.

I’d argue like this: in the above case there are two sentences, the quote and the sentence that contains the quote. Both need to be terminated with a period.

Veen17 hours ago

A footnote in the article addresses this: "More logical still would be to have two periods, one marking the end of the quoted sentence and the other the end of the top-level sentence. But that would be redundant and also look ugly."

I tend to agree with the author. While it's logically consistent, it's typographically redundant. There's no need to end a sentence with a full stop, a quotation mark, another full stop, and then a space, before beginning the next sentence with a capital letter.

fauigerzigerk17 hours ago

I don't see why it is redundant. There is no reason to assume that the quoted sentence ends the quoting sentence. Imagine this being the last thing you see on a page. Without turning the page, there would be no way of knowing whether the quoting sentence is complete.

But these things are just conventions. It's futile to demand any kind of logic or consistency.

OskarS17 hours ago

This is the kind of thing that really annoy programmers (because in programming languages, you can never omit things like this), but everyone else is perfectly fine with.

As a programmer though, it certainly annoys me!

+1
crispyambulance13 hours ago
repsilat4 hours ago

> everyone else is perfectly fine with

My newspaper will shorten "United States" to "U.S.", and not add an extra period at the end of a sentence. (Not sure if the spaces are different widths.) When the next word would naturally start with a capital letter it can be difficult to tell whether the sentence ends after the abbreviation, sometimes making for garden-path sentences.

>> There have been some rumblings inside the U.S. Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer said in an interview...

Though I am a programmer, so maybe it is just us...

+3
ivan_gammel16 hours ago
taeric12 hours ago

It is redundant because the punctuation is mainly there to indicate pausing or transitioning, but the quotes already indicate a change in voice, which is also a pause/transition.

To that end, I am struggling to think of a time where the punctuation at the end of a quote really mattered. Even exclamations are less necessary, with the support of the surrounding sentance. Consider; they screamed "stop" to get the attention of everyone. And, "stop!" they screamed. In both, the change of voice to the quoted word is about the same.

kazinator4 hours ago

Yes; so the period inside the quotes is redundant, and that one should be removed.

The outside sentence can continue after the quote; the terminating period outside of the quote is necessary if the sentence is ending there.

We know that the quote has ended with the closing quote, and so we can agree on the convention that there is an implied period there, if the quoted material is a complete clause with subject and verb. If it needs some other punctuation like a question mark, then that is explicit.

> He asked me "what time is it?".

The ? ends the question, the . ends the sentence that contains the embedded question.

The enclosing sentence can continue:

> He asked me "what time is it?" but hurriedly walked away as I glanced at my watch.

Now you positively, definitely cannot remove the period after "watch". Why would you remove it if the words "but ... watch" are deleted?

This stuff is simply too important to leave in the hands of people who have never written a compiler.

hdjjhhvvhga16 hours ago

It's not the only element of style that may seem illogical, there are many more. Off the top of my head:

* Nested parentheses. (In theory, you could use any level needed (provided that they make sense), but in practice, they're scoffed at.) It is similar with quotes, for the same reasons: limited readability - although here you can at least juggle with single, double and French quotes, depending on the language and style guide used.

* Repetitions: unless used as a stylistic device (in poetry, advertising, etc.), your editors will try to modify repeated words, trying to find synonyms. In technical writing, it is an abomination, and competent editors know very well they must not touch any specific terms, no matter how often repeated, as they have very precise meaning.

But in general, the rules present in style guides are meant to ensure consistency and uniform reading experience, so that the reader is not distracted by form and can concentrate on the meaning, so they are a good thing as long as people are aware these are just arbitrary rules separate from spelling and grammar.

Veen15 hours ago

In general writing, you have to be careful to balance repetition. At one extreme is what's been called "elegant variation"[0] and at the other is monotonous repetition, which hurts readability.

But, as you say, in technical writing, it's enormously irritating. I do a fair bit of freelance writing, and it pisses me off no end when editors and clients change a technical term for an apparent near synonym because they don't understand the nuance. It makes the sentence nonsensical and makes me look as though I don't know what I'm talking about.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elegant_variation

+1
hjek15 hours ago
+2
tener14 hours ago
fauigerzigerk16 hours ago

Absolutely. My comment is only about whether or not the second period is logically redundant.

floatingatoll12 hours ago

What benefit does the reader draw from being informed “this quoted phrase is a complete sentence”?

It’s not futile to reconsider conventions, no matter that demands may go ignored.

+2
LeifCarrotson11 hours ago
optymizer12 hours ago

> Without turning the page, there would be no way of knowing whether the quoting sentence is complete.

and he said: "Mary, let's go

--- page ---

fishing".

ChristianGeek5 hours ago

Isn’t it a rule that if you quote a complete sentence it must end the quoting sentence?

smeej15 hours ago

Supposing the sentence weren't complete on the first page but the quoted one were, is this what you would expect to see?

"...and also look ugly.",

In that case, the convention of placing just a comma inside the quotation marks if the quoted sentence were complete but the quoting sentence were not seems much cleaner.

marcus_holmes12 hours ago

Yes that's exactly what I'd expect to see.

    He said "I came in with the tide.", but she wasn't listening.
(which is correct according to my expensive British education) is very preferable to

    He said "I came in with the tide.," but she wasn't listening.
which has a full stop and comma next to each other and looks hideous.

However, I do personally think the full stop inside the quotes is redundant and would remove it, unless it made a real difference to the sentence meaning.

JumpCrisscross11 hours ago

> I don't see why it is redundant

Can you construct a pair of sentences where the potential ambiguity would be meaningful and not trivially resolved with context?

bujak30017 hours ago

If a quote is incomplete and a meaningful part is omitted there are other typographical conventions to indicate that, like a double period .. for example

+1
fauigerzigerk17 hours ago
+1
HWR_1412 hours ago
thaumasiotes16 hours ago

Terminating the quoted sentence with a period is redundant, since the closing quotation mark also terminates it.

+1
rocqua15 hours ago
fauigerzigerk16 hours ago

I agree with that, assuming there would be some indication if the quoted sentence wasn't complete.

I'm just saying that the outer/quoting sentence needs its own punctuation regardless of what's going on in between those quotation marks.

croon12 hours ago

Then you have no signifier for whether the quote is partial or not. Did you quote part of something someone said or the full sentence?

+1
OscarCunningham16 hours ago
smitty1e17 hours ago

Punctuation has a braking effect on the reader.

, ; : .

If you're at a full stop, the second . feels superfluous.

kube-system15 hours ago

Then again, ellipsis marks are also a thing.

JasonFruit13 hours ago

Did you really say, "I tend to agree with the author?"

See the problem there? The quoted sentence is not a question, but the outer sentence is; why, then, is the question mark inside the quotation marks? Double punctuation would solve that ambiguity, and would not be redundant.

Alternatively, and I'm not sure which is correct, if the question mark is outside the quotation marks, was the quote a complete sentence?

abduhl13 hours ago

The question mark is supposed to go outside the quote if it is not part of the quote, FYI. Same with exclamation points. Internalizing only happens with periods and commas.

+1
JasonFruit12 hours ago
quesera9 hours ago

Also awkward:

Did you ask, "Is this your dog?"?

philsnow7 hours ago

To me, seeing that punctuation is soothing. It's finding another person who I know thinks the same way I do, if only about this one, pedantic thing.

joemi8 hours ago

I do wonder if that kind of thing is awkward just because we're not used to it...

rivo17 hours ago

What would be the proper punctuation if you rearranged the sentence slightly?

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, “I refute it thus.”, as his foot rebounded.

Is the period redundant? Or the comma after it? None of them? This looks almost as ugly as two periods.

a9h74j10 hours ago

To me it looks wrong to omit a period in a famous short one-sentence statement. To stay within American style, I would rearrange the sentence to end with the quote, "I refute it thus."

mdp202116 hours ago

The period before the quotation mark is redundant, because the quotation mark implies it (in this case).

gumby11 hours ago

For simplicity, every sentence should end with a full stop (period). Thus:

    How are you today?.

    This is important!.
Which clearly demonstrates that ! and ? can appear in the middle of a sentence, just as ; and , can:

   I want to call to your attention this very important!! point: always checks the return value of your system calls.
I do draw the line at introducing scoping operators though it would simplify the grammar.
LeoPanthera6 hours ago

The dot below ? and ! is the full stop.

Thus implying the existence of non-dotted versions for mid-sentence usage.

gumby2 hours ago

Good point -- I shoulda known as IPv8 addresses use ., !, and ? to separate address parts when using "dotted" notation.

> Thus implying the existence of non-dotted versions for mid-sentence usage.

Or would they have commas as is used when the : is degrades into the less definitive ;?

sfg16 hours ago

I like the 'more logical still' style.

The structure of the whole looks incomplete and unbalanced without the second full-stop, which I find ugly. I guess that I care more about logical structure (or my idea of logical structure), than typographical utility.

majormajor11 hours ago

Once we're accepting that appearance is part of our decision, the American one has just as much appeal as the British one.

gilgoomesh17 hours ago

Do you mean, like this: ““I refute it thus.”, he said.”? It does get ugly.

dandare17 hours ago

Redundant and ugly are very subjective qualities in this case.

kazinator8 hours ago

You mean, "typograhicl redunat".

bloak17 hours ago

> Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.”.

Well, I don't really like that: it just doesn't look nice to me. I would suggest one of the following:

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus”.

You've chosen not to quote the full stop. There's no law that says you have to include everything in the quotation, right?

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded: “I refute it thus.”

This also works if the quoted sentence ends with a question or exclamation mark.

It's a shame that punctuation of human languages can't be logical, but it seems that we're stuck with inconsistent requirements and messy compromises. Cases like the following really confuse and annoy me:

“On the other hand[,]”[,] she said, “we could wait till dark[.]”[.]

(Should that depend on whether the original spoken sentence would, if written, contain a comma after "hand"?)

laborat17 hours ago

But what would you do if Dr Johnson was surprised, and you yourself were shouting, i.e.:

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded: “I refute it thus?”!

AFAICS, the only way to render this faithfully is the way I just did. In other words, you really do need the punctuation both of the outer sentence and the inner sentence. By extension, the only logical approach for the original sentence would be:

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded: “I refute it thus.”.

On a different note, might I use this moment to complain about American books not closing quotations, if they continue on onto a new paragraph, and then opening them again? I.e.:

John said: "I have two things to say.

"One of these things is this.

"The other thing is this."

dTal17 hours ago

The quotation thing is irritating if you treat them like matched parentheses, but if you allow the opening and closing quotes to have different meanings, there is a logical interpretation. The opening quote is required syntax for the beginning of any quoted paragraph, so that the reader is reminded that we're still in an extended quote. The closing quote means "this person is finished speaking, and the next quote may be assumed to be a different person." The advantage is the streamlining of longer exchanges:

John spoke to Paul. John said: "I have two things to say.

"One of the things is this."

"What's the other?"

"The other thing is this."

Even in the purest programming languages, we're happy to design special-case idioms that sacrifice perfect orthogonality for better human factors, provided there's an unambiguous parse. Scheme provides (define <identifier> <expression>) - utterly elementary. Yet defining functions by binding identifiers to anonymous lambdas is so annoying that an unneccesary and inconsistent second syntax is provided, (define (<identifier <args...>) <expression>).

nicwolff9 hours ago

Eh? Standard American and British usage is the same with regard to quotes that span multiple paragraphs. Given that it's understood that speakers can alternate without each quote being attributed, e.g.:

Bob said: "Any opinion on this, John?"

John said: "I have two things to say."

"What are they?"

"One of these things is this.

"The other thing is this."

– how would you punctuate that? If you close each paragraph with a quote, then there's no way to tell who's speaking except to label each paragraph:

Bob said: "Any opinion on this, John?"

John said: "I have two things to say."

Bob asked: "What are they?"

John answered: "One of these things is this."

John continued: "The other thing is this."

And if you don't open each quoted paragraph with a quote, it's very hard to tell which paragraphs are quoted:

John said: "I have two things to say.

One of these things is this.

The other thing is this."

The third thing, he kept to himself.

bottled_poe17 hours ago

And what about when the quoted text is two sentences? Do we write a full stop for the first sentence, but not the second?

KronisLV17 hours ago

> There's no law that says you have to include everything in the quotation, right?

Oh, if only languages worked so consistently.

  DESCRIPTION_OF_WHAT_WAS_SAID: "$(DIRECT_QUOTE.)".
Then again, in programming things don't always nest either, since sub shell calls have all sorts of oddities in regards to escape sequences.

Has there ever been a case of anything nesting nicely, be it in languages, programming, or any other medium of writing? Maybe XML? I'm not sure.

arethuza17 hours ago

I guess that's what XML namespaces were supposed to allow.

Reality seemed to involve eldritch abominations like one system I encountered that had entire Base64 encoded XML documents embedded as attribute values in a higher level document and then this approach applied recursively....

Edit: Of course, this wasn't XMLs fault - but for some reason a lot of XML used in the "enterprise" world seemed to be primarily designed to eat the soul of whoever gazed upon it.

maybeOneDay17 hours ago

> Has there ever been a case of anything nesting nicely, be it in languages, programming, or any other medium of writing? Maybe XML? I'm not sure.

JSON?

+1
KronisLV16 hours ago
sbuk16 hours ago

Typographically, the first comma is redundant, as it's implied in the break;

"On the other hand", she said, "we could wait 'til dark".

0x00000000115 hours ago

> Well, I don't really like that: it just doesn't look nice to me.

Well, I don't really like that; it just doesn't look nice to me.

maddyboo17 hours ago

> It’s a shame that the punctuation of human languages can’t be logical.

    s/the punctuation of //
eurasiantiger17 hours ago

Lojban is a human language, even if it is not a natural language.

mjochim14 hours ago

Lojban also hasn’t shown that it would retain its principles after years of broad day-to-day usage. And I dare speculate that it would not.

throwaway89434512 hours ago

This is what I do as well. The article says it's "redundant and ugly" but I don't think it's redundant at all--it's unambiguous that "I refute it thus." is a full sentence quote that happens to come at the end of a sentence. It's consistent and simple, as opposed to a special rule that says you can elide the outer `.` if (1) the quote ends in a `.` and (2) the quote is the final element of a sentence.

Y_Y18 hours ago

I strongly agree.

While we're on the topic, all the journals I'm familiar with require punctuation like full stops (aka periods) to be included in displaystyle maths expressions. There is a some logical justification for this, but it looks awful, and can be downright confusing depending on the sort of notation employed. It particularly irks me to see a spare comma tagged on to the end of a tensor calculus expression, that's supposed to be understood in the context of the surrounding prose, rather than the adjecant mathematical expression.

__MatrixMan__13 hours ago

Whenever I ask my English teacher wife about this sort of thing she reminds me that punctuation is rhetorical.

If it's important to the writer that what is quoted be identified as a sentence then I agree with you, and I'm going to start using that construction in my writing.

But when it comes to quoting words people say, is often good enough to just quote the words.

When you store a command in a string, to you include the trailing newline? I usually don't, but it'll always depend on the use case.

programmer_dude18 hours ago

I feel the period inside quotes is redundant. The last quotation mark can signal both: end of quote and end of sentence within the quote. Though it gets complicated when there are multiple sentences within the quote.

> Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus. I refute it thus”.

This looks "unbalanced" to me.

jjgreen18 hours ago

.". does look rather like a hairy Kilroy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilroy_was_here

Y_Y17 hours ago

I bet we'll see a "hairy Kilroy" operator in the next Haskell library for meromorphic lens co-combinators.

thewakalix17 hours ago

Unfortunately, the quotation mark is not a valid operator character.

dspillett16 hours ago

Same. It is like matching brackets. Two sentence ends, one quoted and one quoting, so two full-stops. And like putting exclamation/question/interrobang/other marks in the right place depending on who is using them (quoter, quotee, or both).

Of course you can shorten your quote by one character and leave out the inner stop, and I'd say that was equally valid. I would tend to do that unless I want to make it absolutely clear that what I was quoting wasn't a run-on sentence that continued after that point.

dgb2318 hours ago

Footnote from the article:

> More logical still would be to have two periods, one marking the end of the quoted sentence and the other the end of the top-level sentence. But that would be redundant and also look ugly.

I agree with you in principle, but aesthetics matter!

donatj17 hours ago

I would vote omit the punctuation from the original quote unless it adds something of particular value, which that period doesn’t seem to?

odiroot17 hours ago

I wrote my whole master thesis as you describe. It was logical to me. Then my promotor complained that it's not correct so I had to go through whole 100+ pages to correct all the instances.

enriquto16 hours ago

why? can't it be solved by a sed script with less than ten characters?

canadianfella15 hours ago

Why don’t you write that script for us.

soheil10 hours ago

  /\."\./, /\."/
odiroot8 hours ago

I also did the same for parenthesis, so would need to double the cases :)

soheil6 hours ago

  /\.([^\w])\./, /\.$1/
kevinmgranger12 hours ago

It sounds like we need a ligature that puts the quotation mark directly over the punctuation.

psychoslave16 hours ago

Just don't put a ended sentence at the end of something that is not yet a finished utterance.

It's always possible to make a full sentence quotation after a colon, possibly using indentation:

  With just enough of learning to misquote.
    — Lord Byron
This can be even more explicit:

  “One whom it is easier to hate, but still easier to quote.”
    — Alexander Pope
Or you can also opt for inner quotation lightly altering the typography, like “quotation is the highest compliment you can pay to an author”, which is actually an excerpt from the wider quotation:

  “Quotation is the highest compliment you can pay to an author. Perhaps the next highest is, when a writer of any kind is so considerable that you go to the labor and pains of endeavoring to refute him before the public, the very doing of which is an incidental admission of his talent and power.”
    — Anonymous
baktubi12 hours ago

Hmm. This feels a bit wrong to me. Double period makes longer pause, and wedged between a quote it doesn’t flow well:

.”. Feels like a visual stutter.

Either .” or “. are more final and visually stable.

I’d argue depending on whether the pause affected by the period is important to the quote itself, put it in the quote. Then again, a block-quotation is probably more suitable for that scenario. Personally, for basic quotes in prose I’d put the period on the outside of quote because that directs readers to pause after the quote ends, not before.

xdennis11 hours ago

If it's like coding styles, almost anything to do with style is a matter of how much you're used to it. If .”. was the norm you might not find it so stylistically wrong.

But .” is always syntactically wrong when then quoted text didn't have a full stop in it, and ”. is ambiguous about whether it's a complete sentence or not.

dragonwriter12 hours ago

> I think it’s weird that a punctuation mark inside a quote can end the sentence that contains the quote.

It doesn't. The end quote with a period inside it ends the sentence.

> I’d argue like this: in the above case there are two sentences

There aren't. English doesn't nest or overlap sentences. Ever. Therr are plenty of ways in which English combines multiple units which each could otherwise be their own sentences into more complex sentences, but none of them involve having something which remains a sentence inside a longer sentence.

a9h74j10 hours ago

Not even parenthetical remarks with opening and closing parentheses or mdashes?

I won't say it isn't so (that would be redundant), but this example makes my point again.

soheil10 hours ago

> The end quote with a period inside it ends the sentence.

What a weird interpretation. Two characters shouldn't be needed to end a sentence, only a period can end a sentence. It'd be a lot easier to postulate the period inside ends the sentence and the quotation mark ends the quote that just ran outside the end of the sentence by one character.

Xen0byte14 hours ago

Exactly, both approaches in the article are wrong, and this is the only way to write the sentence correctly. Each sentence needs to end in a punctuation mark, regardless of whether it's between quotes or not.

erwald18 hours ago

yep, I do mention this approach in a footnote, though it looks kinda awkward to me. maybe just because I’m not used to it. it’s definitely not necessary for reading aloud, where it’s enough to know that there’s a punctuation there. but when reading silently it does make more sense.

DonHopkins9 hours ago

Yes, that's better and more logical, because it also handles the case where the final punctuation of the outer sentence and quoted sentence is different, like when Dr. Johnson asked "I refute it thus?"!

lalaithion9 hours ago

Technically, "I refute it thus" and "I refute it thus." are both valid quotations of a source that contains, in its entirety, "I refute it thus."

recursive6 hours ago

Is "rig" a valid quotation of "dirigibility"?

Is "go there" a valid quotation of "never go there"?

leephillips12 hours ago

As a programmer surely the concept of syntactic sugar is not unfamiliar to you.

floatingatoll12 hours ago

How is the period in the quoted section relevant to the reader, in light of the close quote character terminating the sentence and quote both?

Aeolun16 hours ago

I like the consistency of always having my punctuation inside quotes if a quote is there.

Having to make the extra decision on whether the punctuation should be in, or outside the quote is too much to think about.

ycombinete14 hours ago

.”.

This looks completely bizarre to me. I hope this never becomes a standard.

tradertef4 hours ago

Same here. This is the way.

CarVac14 hours ago

Someone I know made a font modified so that the quotation mark goes directly over the period, which is a better way to combine the two.

nxpnsv17 hours ago

I logged in to write that it should be like this. Until the world changes, I use the British approach unless someone complains too much.

mlindner13 hours ago

That's how I already write messages. People can complain if they like.

rekoil18 hours ago

This is how I always do it.

I don't care what other people think, this is the only thing that makes sense if you ask me.

felipellrocha17 hours ago

Finally someone who agrees with me. Don’t want the double punctuation? Write a simpler sentence.

SimeVidas15 hours ago

She asked, “Did you find this on Yahoo!?”.

mdpm12 hours ago

think of it as a self-closing element. Like <br/> became <br>.

soheil10 hours ago

No, because you will still need to apply a special case to stop the recursion of putting a period after a period forever. If a sentence ends in a period then what ends the expression that contains the sentence and the period? Answer: another period because you can think of that expression as a sentence too. So you need a special case that says if there are going to be two periods next to each other then terminate the recursion. Similarly your .". asinine suggestion fails since it implicitly invokes a special rule, but is worse than the elegant special rule of just having one period.

lostgame11 hours ago

This rubs me wrong in all the ways and is aesthetically jarring as all hell to me.

If I’m reading a book or essay and I come across this type of punctuation, it actually actively removes me from my flow of reading and causes me to stop for a moment and lose immersion - same with obvious spelling and grammatical errors.

It’s amazing how dependent our reading immersion is on proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.

robocat8 hours ago

> aesthetically

I prefer to think it is what you are accustomed to, or habituated to.

From these comments a number of people including me, prefer to use the .”. form because we find that more aesthetically pleasing. I had discovered the .”. form myself because I play with my punctuation (and words and grammar), and until this discussion I hadn’t noticed others use .”.*.

I presume other other programmers play with syntax and punctuation too.

* Note I have italicised .”. and if you zoom on an iPad the full stops [US periods] change from squares to rhombusы.

jimbob4512 hours ago

Yep, I agree and I do this too. Even in school I was willing to eat the docked points for doing it this way.

TedShiller17 hours ago

lol

bambax17 hours ago

Strongly disagree. This is an abomination. Language and typography have to be elegant in addition to intelligible.

Stratoscope17 hours ago

Besides, if you look at it upside down, you might be tempted to invoke Godwin's Law.

dspillett16 hours ago

They don't have to be. They should be where-ever possible without affecting meaning or legibility.

reedf117 hours ago

Would you sacrifice clarity for elegance?

bambax17 hours ago

Good question! Perhaps one of the most important questions regarding writing...

I would argue clarity and elegance don't oppose one another; elegance means being as clear as possible without being clumsy or heavy handed, and without insulting your reader's intelligence. Said reader is not a machine, they're supposed to be fluent in the language.

We should reduce ambiguity as much as possible, but no more than that. Adding signs where no ambiguity remains only worsens the signal to noise ratio.

ttctciyf17 hours ago

What clarity is sacrificed? Is it in doubt that the sentence ended?

The single period favours both elegance and clarity over slavish and unimaginative punctiliousness.

hellbannedguy17 hours ago

This always made more sence.

I used to love to write. That all ended in college, with English Instructors. I wasen't the only student either.

There was so much emphasis on grammar, interesting writers just seemed to sound all alike. I enjoyed some of the papers that were read aloud the first few weeks. By the end of the courses, the papers were technically correct, but boring, and lacked imagination. I could see the enthusiasm drain from the students faces with every paper covered in red Sharpie corrections.

I had one teacher that used to down grade me for not writing out numbers 1-10, and only using numbers for 11 on. I still don't know what's right, or care anymore.

(I believe S & W recommends writing out 1-10.)

donatj17 hours ago

I got in a heated debate about this with a technical writing instructor. Namely, I was ending a question with a quote along the lines of

> Why did Jake believe the AI was “going to kill us all”?

The instructor wanted me to put the question mark of the outer sentence within the quotation marks despite the quoted text not containing a question mark.

> Why did Jake believe the AI was “going to kill us all?”

I felt like doing so changed the meaning of the quote, and it felt like a misrepresentation. This being the “correct” way to do it has always irritated me.

I ended up rewording the sentence so it wouldn’t end with the quotation, and have just actively avoided ending sentences in quotes ever since.

eCa17 hours ago

Yes, this is the reason why, IMHO, the American way is objectively wrong.

Aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, but a quotation style that enforces incorrect quotations is not good.

soraminazuki12 hours ago

It seems wrong because it is.

> Question marks and exclamation points have their own rules.

> If they apply to the quoted material, they go within the quotation marks. If they apply to the whole sentence, they go outside it

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/quotation-marks/

eCa12 hours ago

I have seen things like:

> The password is ’%>>~|]#^|,’ which is awesome.

Which is, as far as I know, correct according to the rules.

PennRobotics8 hours ago

There's nothing I like more than typing a URL at the end of a sentence and getting the punctuation wrapped up in the URL. /s

bee_rider10 hours ago

I don't think the normal rules of grammar are designed to handle this case. I would probably write something like

> The password, which is awesome, is:

> %>>~|]#^|

This also has the benefit of putting the password on it's own line, which should make life easier for people actually consuming the document.

pteraspidomorph16 hours ago

It makes some sense if you consider it a representation of the way you'd speak/read the sentence. If you read that sentence out loud, regardless of where you put the question mark you'll have to intone the quote as if the quote was a question, due to its context. So it functions "better" as a reading hint. (Though I'd also prefer to have the punctuation outside the quote.)

shannifin17 hours ago

Unlike periods and commas, putting question marks and exclamation marks inside the quotation when they are not part of the quote is against AP, APA, Chicago, and MLA style specifications... Granted, I don't know if technical writing typically adheres to some other style, but shoving a question mark inside a quote it isn't part of is definitely not typical of American styles in general.

lolinder13 hours ago

Correct, but that just shows why the American style is so confusing. That we have to have an exception for more meaningful punctuation marks just serves to confuse, and emphasizes just how bad the default is.

dnautics11 hours ago

I didn't even realize that periods were an exception. (as an American) I've always preserved the original quote for all three forms of punctuation, and put a sentence-ender only if there isn't one inside the quote. I'd bet most americans do the same, style guides be damned. IMO, it's also totally crazy to export a punctuation mark out of the quote always.

shannifin8 hours ago

True, you really only have to worry about it if you're writing or editing for a teacher or publisher who wants you to adhere to some specific style. The real annoying thing for me (as an American) was having different teachers teach different things in school. (Same with double spaces between sentences in typing and the oxford comma.) At least when the teacher used a style guide, there was a source of consistency I could turn to, even if I disagreed with them.

beckerdo16 hours ago

This brings up a point related to the double-period/redundancy discussion above.

In a slight adjustment of this example, what if the text were a question and the quotation were a statement. Would this be a good construct: Why did Jake believe "the AI was going to kill us all."?

Similarly you could have a text statement with a quoted question: Jake asked "would the AI kill us all?".

Xen0byte14 hours ago

Very good counter-argument to the non-sensical punctuation mark redundancy argument.

beckerdo7 hours ago

Also there are the possibilities for various questions and exclamations.

Why did Jake ask "Can I have another biscuit?"?

I was frightened when Jake shouted "Who are you?"!

My trousers were soiled when Jake shouted "Boo!"!

Why did I soil my trousers when Jake shouted "Boo!"?

dfxm1212 hours ago

I felt like doing so changed the meaning of the quote, and it felt like a misrepresentation... I ended up rewording the sentence so it wouldn’t end with the quotation, and have just actively avoided ending sentences in quotes ever since.

I appreciate the skill involved in avoiding ambiguity. The hard part is knowing the unknown unknowns, ya know? I read both sentences the same way and can't really fathom why someone else wouldn't! (Of course, I don't have the context of the original quote here, so maybe that comes into play... but I don't know, and probably shouldn't have to!)

Tsiklon10 hours ago

I think you're right;

> Why did Jake believe the AI was "going to kill us all?"

This reads, to me, like Jake's quoted sentence was originally a question. If the original sentence was an assertion or a statement, then you're right this fundamentally changes the meaning and strength of Jake's sentence.

sebastialonso10 hours ago

wow, your instructor is an idiot.

po17 hours ago

The real answer is to use the British style but then combine the " and . into a ligature in the font so that it looks nicer like the American style. Simple!

edit: Just searched and there are some people doing exactly this with negative kerning:

https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/369077/overlapping-q...

https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/202799/how-can-i-typ...

jeroenhd16 hours ago

Wow, I can't believe how much I now realize I want this to be the default. This whole situation feels like the result of a lack of computers unable to automatically place these "ligatures" and I've never considered how we should've ditched this restriction years ago.

flyingfences12 hours ago

As I recall, this historically was the standard. In handwriting, the ligature could be and was placed naturally. In professional printing with moveable type, the ligature could be included in the typeset. Only once typewriters were invented and couldn't spare a key for every ligature did the sequential style appear and the British and American styles diverge.

bee_rider10 hours ago

This seems like it ought to be possible on a typewriter -- or at least, one with a true backspace. I'm not sure if the backspace was an advanced/late feature, though. It seems pretty simple, but mechanical parts are pretty fiddly I guess.

Spivak11 hours ago

What ligature would you propose for "? or "!

jeroenhd8 hours ago

There's no real ligature for those, but those characters don't really take up any unnecessary whitespace. Combining low and high punctuation marks makes more sense. You could try to turn "! into a well-kerned '!', with he quotation marks very close to the exclamation point, but for the question mark such a system would probably not work.

That said, perhaps there's something to be found in other languages. Some quote with «quote», some with “quote”, others with „quote“, and there's many other variations. I can see how ligatures can work with constructions such as ¿question? can have the quotation makes placed closer in the beginning of the question marks, especially with the slow change from the angled brackets to the English quotation marks in some Spanish speaking countries.

tomtheelder10 hours ago

You don't need one for those. Even in the American style those are supposed to be placed inside or outside the quotations depending on whether the question/exclamation is part of the quote or not.

albrewer11 hours ago

I like this solution way more than anything proposed here. It's how I'd write it by hand.

xdennis11 hours ago

How does this work with longer punctuation like “?”, “!”, or “‽”?

jameshart13 hours ago

I think, given that this is just some guy’s opinion (it’s not like this is someone who has a job as a professional copyeditor or publisher of a respected style guide), the only real takeaway most people should take from this is:

There are various conventions you can adopt around quoted punctuation

You, as an individual writer of English prose, have the option of adopting a style you prefer

It’s okay for reasonable people to disagree about that

BugWatch8 hours ago

Basically, all interpunction characters have started as "some guy's opinion".

All graphemes for the characters, too.

I know the "rules", but I've been also intentionally writing it in what I refer to as "functional style", e.g.:

""" Greg's reaction was "But what of the otters?!". Mary's "Nobody cares about otters!" was received with a stunned shock. Joseph calmly said "I'm ambivalent.". But Ophelia just "didn't care".

After hearing about the whole ordeal, Mary's brother was livid: "«Nobody cares about otters!»?! She's a bloody otterologist!"... and then he visibly shook, and his face blanked as he slowly collapsed into his armchair, looking broken, repeatingly mumbling to himself "Illogical... illogical...".

"""

First three are verbatim restated statements; fourth is a partial and/or summary statement (no quoted punctuation); fifth is a very complex example (and a long [but fully functional!] sentence.

We also need light-, mid-, heavy-strength commas. :p

macdice17 hours ago

Another stupid detail like this that immediately tells you that text is from America is the capitalisation of every word in a title. Compare the front page of the NY Times with the front pages from any other English speaking country and you see the contrast. I didn't check, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Canadians go both ways at random ;-)

Doctor_Fegg16 hours ago

It's less logical even than that. It's almost every word. On the NYT homepage right now, for example, one story is "Justice Dept. Asks Judge to Block Texas From Enforcing Abortion Law". So "From" is capitalised but "to" isn't.

Weirdly, scrolling down the page, the technology section appears to go its own way on capitalisation rules: "Apple's new iPhone 13 is better, but not by much." is followed by "Apple Issues Emergency Updates to Close a Spyware Flaw".

JohnWhigham13 hours ago

4-letter-long and above prepositions are capitalized. Can't remember where I got that rule, but they're probably using that; I use it for my music collection.

tablespoon9 hours ago

> 4-letter-long and above prepositions are capitalized. Can't remember where I got that rule, but they're probably using that; I use it for my music collection.

This is the guide I follow, and it would only capitalize preposition five characters or longer:

http://aitech.ac.jp/~ckelly/midi/help/caps.html

BostonFern12 hours ago

It's called title case, and it's not determined by the length of a word but by whether or not a word is minor. The rules defining minor words vary slightly between styles, but they're usually prepositions and articles.

rplst812 hours ago

I learned it as all prepositions and articles, unless they start the title.

Spivak11 hours ago

You and APA seem to disagree on this https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/capitaliza... but it's ultimately one of semantics since if your list of minor words are all three letters or less then it's the same.

> Lowercase only minor words that are three letters or fewer in a title or heading (except the first word in a title or subtitle or the first word after a colon, em dash, or end punctuation in a heading)

nkozyra16 hours ago

I'm surprised by this, as the Times has a fairly well-followed style book. I'd be curious if this pattern followed in print or if things are just more lax online.

edit: Having just compared, it does look like the content generated online has a looser pattern than the articles generated for this morning's paper.

ranko16 hours ago

Book titles in British English tend to be title case (capitalise most words, apart from "a", "the", etc), but newspaper headlines are usually sentence case apart from tabloid front pages, which are all caps and have their own language ("It's the Sun wot won it", for example).

TillE10 hours ago

A weird thing British papers do is de-capitalize acronyms. It's a useful signal for pronunciation, but it's also just...wrong? Like, the agency is called NASA, not Nasa.

dredmorbius7 hours ago

<pedant>

The UK practise is for initialisms to be capiitalised and acronyms, which are prounced rather than spelled out, to have an initial capital (when rerfering to a proper noun) but lower-cased following.

So "Nasa", but "FBI".

There's some adoption of this in US English, though typically for words which have fallen into normal use and don't identify specific organisations or entities: scuba, radar, sonar, laser.

The UK style isn't uniform in all cases, particularly where initialism are pronouced with a mix of spelled-out letters and pronounced terms. So "HIV", but "Aids" (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/dec/01/through-posi...). I believe much US military usage falls under this pattern, as with USAMRID or USCENTCOM. In the latter case, The Guardian chooses the entirely consistent ... "USCentcom".

The same source gives us "GBU-43/B or Moab, known as the 'mother of all bombs'". https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/15/us-mother-of-a...

</pedant>

dredmorbius17 hours ago

cOnsider tHe pOssible cOmpromises aVailable tO tHe eNterprising lAnguage sTylist!

rozab17 hours ago

I was typing out an explanation/justification to the effect that when speaking aloud, the punctuation at the end of the sentence is 'heard' in the last word, even if the word is quoted. We insert a pause before the start of the quote to indicate it was direct, but there isn't a way of indicating whether, say, a question mark belongs inside or outside the quotation.

But then I sounded out some examples in my head and realised it would be totally obvious. The inflection of the question is apparent from the beginning of the fragment (¿), not just from the inflection on the last word. I knew this already, of course, but I didn't really grok it, I guess because of the limitations of how we write out punctuation in English.

john-aj17 hours ago

Also, aren't questions marked primarily by word order rather than intonation in English?

thaumasiotes16 hours ago

There are several kinds of questions.

The intonation that people think of as characterizing questions is actually specific to yes/no questions. It can be the only feature that marks the sentence as interrogative: "You know him?" is a valid sentence, and it is distinct from the indicative "You know him."

There are also what I think of as "question word" questions, and you might think of as "fill in the blank" questions: "Why are you here?"

These do not necessarily have the intonation that applies to yes/no questions. Like yes/no questions, they are characterized by subject-auxiliary inversion (the word order constraint you mention), and also like yes/no questions, that inversion is not guaranteed to be present in a question of this type: "Who sent you?"

(Note that inversion is possible for "You know him?" ("Do you know him?") and impossible for "Who sent you?"; these are different phenomena.)

I would argue that the yes/no question is primarily marked by intonation and the question-word question is primarily marked by the presence of a question word. Word order is affected in both cases, but not the primary indicator of what's going on. (Compare "He said what to the king?" - again, inversion is possible here ("What did he say to the king?"), but not required. In this case, the inverted version of the question is unmarked (normal), and the uninverted version suggests that the speaker wishes to place a special emphasis on something.)

chromatin13 hours ago

Re. Intonation: I actually distinctly remember my first grade teacher having us practice a rising tone at the end of a “question sentence”. (US, 1980)

Also I remember being taught quite rigidly the “A,Eric an” style of quotation-punctuation relationship, and I naturally rejected it from the beginning as illogical.

Spivak11 hours ago

Sentences of the form <some_statement>? with rising intonation are common and mean roughly <some_statement>, right? or <some_statement>, yes? There's no marker other than the intonation when spoken or the question mark when written to indicate that it's a question.

Tepix17 hours ago

This is indeed annoying and illogical when learning english, especially because other languages get it right.

The french have a different speciality: punctuation marks that consist of two parts(i.e. ? ! ; :) are preceded by a space character. Also very irritating.

bambax16 hours ago

The space should be an "espace fine" (espace is feminine in that context), meaning a smaller space (En Space) than the normal space (Em Space).

The En Space is non-breakable, but the normal non-breakable space is Em in length, and therefore improper.

currysausage16 hours ago

Note that em (current point size) and en (½ em) spaces are both wider than the regular space character (typically ¼ em). An espace fine insécable (narrow no-break space) is even smaller, usually as small as a Unicode thin space (⅕ or ⅙ em): https://jkorpela.fi/chars/spaces.html

Word, in French mode, inserts regular no-break spaces where narrow no-break spaces would be appropriate. I find this style rather irritating, but then again, I don’t read nearly enough French to get accustomed to it.

However, I do agree strongly with the late Jan Tschichold, who recommended thin spaces before question marks, exclamation marks, colons, and semicolons for other languages, too: https://www.courses.psu.edu/art/art101_jxm22/tschichold.html...

bambax15 hours ago

Ah, you're right, my translation of espace fine to En was incorrect, thanks for the correction.

An intriguing problem in typography is the patterns that spaces can form between words on different lines (called rivers); in traditional typography it is checked for but I don't know of any rendering engine that would do that automatically (in a browser, or on an e-reader for example).

+1
currysausage15 hours ago
rom1v16 hours ago

Hmmm, that's true: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espace_fine_ins%C3%A9cable

However, LibreOffice inserts a non-breaking space U+00A0 instead :(

CRConrad12 hours ago

So the French don't break their spaces, they cut them.

Reminds me of https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sekat%C3%B6r

weinzierl16 hours ago

On the other hand, it was the English who used to have some extra space between sentences compared to the space between words. This is still the default in LaTeX, but I believe everyone turns it off by using the \frenchspacing command in the preamble.

Also German has its own verbs for "for the insertion of inappropriate spaces before a punctuation mark." and "for the insertion of inappropriate spaces after a punctuation mark."[1] which are often used in a derogatory manner in connection with people who do it wrongly.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenken

dredmorbius16 hours ago

That's typical of older English typography as well.

Here in a book of classics printed in 1910:

https://archive.org/details/harvardclassics40elio/page/76/mo...

And in David Hume's Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (1753):

https://archive.org/details/essaysandtreati00humegoog/page/n...

rom1v17 hours ago

> The french have a different speciality: punctuation marks that consist of two parts(i.e. ? ! ; :) are preceded by a space character.

Precision: a non-breaking space (unicode U+00A0) :)

LibreOffice or other word processing software automatically replace normal spaces by non-breaking spaces in that case.

But in text editors (like vim), we must do it manually (Ctrl+Shift+ua0 on Linux), typically when writing a French text in markdown, it's a bit irritating indeed.

Symbiote15 hours ago

This is usually configurable, e.g. Compose-Space-Space inserts a no-break space if the Compose key is set up, or AltGr+Space, Ctrl-Shift+Space etc.

(KDE has a dialog for customizing this under Settings→Input Devices→Keyboard→Advanced, where there are an impressive 16 possible options. It is just options to setxkbmap underneath.)

BossHamster17 hours ago

Not only is it irritating, it looks ugly as hell.

bambax16 hours ago

It doesn't look ugly at all if the space is of the correct length.

Tainnor16 hours ago

> There is no reason that there should be two different approaches to punctuation in the English language.

That's the typical answer a programmer would give. A linguist, or really any kind of sociologist, would rather say:

> There is no reason that there should be a single approach to punctuation in the English language.

some_random11 hours ago

I'm going to be entirely honest, this seems like a complete waste of time for everyone involved. The point of writing is to communicate, and I don't see how the position of punctuation in relation to quotation marks affects the understanding of the communication to the reader. Just pick one and stick with it.

simiones17 hours ago

I think the example sentence contains the worst corner-case of such a system. In general, the . at the end of sentence is the least necessary punctuation mark, and quotations of neutral statements should just always omit it.

For example, "this is how a neutral sentence should look like", I would say. I don't think "they saw a vase." looks good even in the middle of a sentence. However, "do I have a question?", or "I am exclaiming something!" do need their punctuation to make sense. Now, it's more ugly when you finish a neutral sentence a quote like "I am surprised!".

Of course, there will be cases, especially in literature, where the . will actually add something to the emphasis of a quote. For example, "I have said it all." could be used to emphasize the period itself - but in those cases, jarring punctuation like `.".` or `.",` would actually help to emphasize the importance of the period.

CRConrad12 hours ago

> For example, "I have said it all." could be used to emphasize the period itself - but in those cases, jarring punctuation like `.".` or `.",` would actually help to emphasize the importance of the period.

Even there, doing it like you did and putting the quoted sentence in the middle, not at the end, of the outer one looks about a gazillion times better

MisterTea15 hours ago

> In the American style, you almost always put periods and commas inside the quotation marks

American here. I never put periods in the quotes unless the text within the quotes is a full sentence. I also had no idea there was an American or British style regarding quotes.

andrew_13 hours ago

American here. Placing punctuation in a quote ending a sentence is how English Composition was taught to me in grade school and in college. I took to Eng Comp early on and had at least one class in the subject from 9th grade in 1993 through my final year of college in 2003.

IMHO this is right up there with tabs vs spaces. People are going to have very different takes on what looks aesthetically pleasing based on viewing repetition and training. There is no right answer, since both are widely accepted, only personal preference.

derbOac12 hours ago

FWIW, as another anecdatum from an American, I was always taught the "British style" was the correct way, and the "American style" was incorrect. They were never referred to as "British" or "American" though, just "correct" and "incorrect".

I prefer the "British" style, FWIW. Maybe it's just what I was taught, but I have encountered arguments for the other way periodically (causing me to have to check), and I always preferred the way I learned for the reasons in the article.

dnautics11 hours ago

the "british" style also introduces an ambiguity. Did the original quote contain the puncutation, or does it derive from the outside context?

It's pretty clear to me that the correct method (on the grounds of respecting source material) is: "punctuation inside, if it comes from the source, punctuation outside if it's from the outside context".

And there are times when quotes aren't even direct quotes, they could be scare quotes. Why the hell would you ever put punctuation inside of a scare quote? I don't think any american would do this.

E.g.:

Dough is pronounced like "doe." -- TERRIBLE. Stab my eyes out.

Dough is pronounced like "doe". -- sensible.

ponco17 hours ago

I genuinely love how American, Australian, and British, English all differ in these subtle ways. I think another example that gets me is: `e.g.` vs `e.g.,` MS Word favours the `e.g.,` which I never see in Australian English.

open-source-ux16 hours ago

There are so many small differences between English language flavours, it's fascinating.

Going off on a tangent, here's a random example...

The way brackets/parentheses are referred to in American English vs British English is different.

In the US:

() = parentheses

[] = brackets

{} = braces (or curly braces)

<> = angle brackets

In the UK:

() = brackets (or 'round brackets')

[] = square brackets

{} = curly brackets

<> = angle brackets (or angled brackets)

I prefer the UK version because it is simpler and feels logical. Plus, the word 'parentheses' is a mouthful :-)

dcminter5 hours ago

I'm British and have worked in the US so I've used most if not all of these forms.

I'm not sure why the British one feels more logical to you, but I don't feel strongly drawn to either so probably it's more about familiarity.

> Plus, the word 'parentheses' is a mouthful :-)

There's a certain flow to the term "parenthetical" that I enjoy too! Alas I am entirely too parenthetic in my own writing and thus spend an annoying amount of time eliding the parentheticals :)

flurdy16 hours ago

Surely {} = squiggly brackets ?

frosted-flakes8 hours ago

Logically, yes, but "curly brackets" is the only term I have ever heard used for these types of brackets. In Canada, which tends to use a lot of UK-isms.

a9h74j10 hours ago

When writing code by hand I literally just draw mirrored squiggles. (On inspection, only the first stroke at the top reliably indicates direction.)

Izkata12 hours ago

I work with UK and US people regularly, and despite not being an official name this is the only name for those characters that everyone has automatically understood.

Accacin13 hours ago

Huh, I'm from the UK and use the American versions. They American ones feel more logical to me. Probably all the programming books I read used the word 'parentheses' (:

tsujp13 hours ago

{} are also referred to as handlebars, I've had a few American colleagues use that.

codingdave16 hours ago

> There is no reason that there should be two different approaches to punctuation in the English language.

Why not? We have different vocabulary, different spelling. Our accents are sufficiently different that non-native speakers can't always understand both.

So serious question - why wouldn't punctuation also differ?

cool-RR12 hours ago

> There is no reason that there should be two different approaches to punctuation in the English language.

If you want to go that route, there's no reason for there to be more than one language on Earth.

Any attempt to research linguistics should respect the fact that people want to be different from each other, and see that as a valid reason.

jmull11 hours ago

Eh, worrying much about this stuff is fairly pointless. It’s not like there’s a rules committee we can petition.

I do use the British style when I can get away with it, but for anything formal or important I just suck it up and do it the way it’s supposed to be done.

Anyway, if I could change rules of English, this wouldn’t be that high a priority.

antattack15 hours ago

US style is 'wrong' because it requires one to modify the original quote by adding punctuation within the quotes which delineate the quotation.

afranchuk13 hours ago

I was taught the American way (as I live in the US), but immediately rejected it (even at a young age) and did it the British way, though I had no idea that's what it was called. Besides the week or so when teachers were covering that in their syllabus, nobody ever complained or noted it at all :)

motohagiography7 hours ago

I switch between the american style for persuasion, and the british style for precision. Am also Canadian, so a metanational approach is normal here. I also keep copies of the Chicago Manual and Strunk & White, which are useful for knowing which rules to break. Ain't never had much of a problem, consequently.

sbuk16 hours ago

Politics and the English Language[0] has this covered, though not directly referencing punctuation; "vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous".

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Langu...

Y_Y13 hours ago

If one is going to look to an authority in English, I think there's none better than Orwell. There are those of the opinion, however, that with regard to "outright barbary" the ship has long since sailed.

chromatin13 hours ago

Hear, hear. An under appreciated long-form essay that I refer colleagues to frequently.

bambax17 hours ago

The reason this problem exists is because computers and font libraries don't have all the characters we need. The point or comma should be at the same place as the quotes, under them, not before or after.

mdp202116 hours ago

And this is why more simply, the quotation mark can imply the period;

similarly, the comma can be inherited by the formulation and implied (there is no sacrifice in '«That's too bad», John said, «but you can recover»' for '«That's too bad, but you can recover»' - the break is in the formulation and the explicit comma is redundant).

alexanderskates17 hours ago

And what of exclamation or question marks?

coldtea17 hours ago

>at the same place as the quotes, under them

What?

OJFord17 hours ago

See po's comment providing SE links for doing it in tex: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28536834

bambax17 hours ago

Ah, yes. Exactly that.

+1
coldtea15 hours ago
hibbelig18 hours ago

I think the argument for the American style is aesthetics. I don't like it, but I can understand that there are people who prefer what looks better. TFA did not address this at all, which is a pity.

programmer_dude18 hours ago

FWIW the British style looks more aesthetically pleasing to me. The American style reminds me of inappropriately mixed brackets: [(]). Cringe.

a9h74j10 hours ago

Oddly, perhaps, I wish programming languages would allow or require mixed brackets when working with open- and/or closed-ended ranges.

blitzar17 hours ago

> for the American style is aesthetics

Why would you make a style choice to make something less aesthetically pleasing?

programmer_dude17 hours ago

I wouldn't and I don't think I am. The American style is not aesthetically pleasing at all. I think you misread my comment or replied to me accidentally.

blitzar14 hours ago

I am in agreement with you - I didnt even know this so called american style existed untill now, it makes no sense at all.

mdp202116 hours ago

> the argument for the American style is aesthetics

Absorption of set theory should make one cringe at 'Abc def. Ghi jkl. Mnop "qrs." Tuv...'. The quotation marks are logically included in the section beginning with 'M', then visually escape it.

mdp202112 hours ago

(Sorry I was rushing and could not ponder more to complete the above as desired)

...It is as if one wrote,

[Abc def] [Ghi jkl] [Mnop (qrs]) [Tuv...

optymizer11 hours ago

I thought there was a generally accepted way of signaling that a quote is incomplete - by using [...]. For example:

"[...] the first game was better, but not in a good way"

There's no need to use the full stop inside the quote to show that the sentence had ended. That can be the default, because most time it doesn't matter, but in the cases where it is relevant to show that there's content after, then why not:

"I thought the first game was better [...]"

ctrlp13 hours ago

This makes sense to me and looks good. Some other quote style ideas:

- use double quotes when quoting something someone said or wrote; use single quotes when emphasizing a jargony word or words, or a short paraphrase (e.g. 'materialist philosophy').

- use double quotes for "scare quotes" because the doubling acts as emphasis markers and is pantomimable with two fingers (one-fingered air-quotes look ridiculous).

- use double quotes around single quotes when nesting quotes. Avoid nesting more than one level of quotes.

bhandziuk10 hours ago

What's the difference between scare quotes and a short catch phrase?

ctrlp8 hours ago

Scare quotes are emotion/sense markers. They suggest irony, sarcasm, "skepticism", etc... A short phrase is just a short phrase.

CRConrad12 hours ago

These are not so much "ideas" as already-common practice, aren't they?

frosted-flakes8 hours ago

UK English uses single quote marks by default, falling back to double quote marks for nesting.

trzeci17 hours ago

Which makes no sense IMHO is to use “” instead of "". But it could be my OCD also.

Y_Y17 hours ago

It's all fun and games until you try to copy the "66 and 99"-style quotes from one place to another, or your ”helpful“ text editor automagically makes a mess of them. It's a pity no good ``asymmetric'' style ever really took off in English. I'm particularly fond of the French «chevrons», and relatedly, ¡Spanish exclamations!

⸘Why has not yet the opening interrobang received similarly wide adoption‽

iggldiggl17 hours ago

I don't really like the dedicated interrobang character, because it loses the distinction between ?! and !?, which is probably rather subtle, but to my mind definitively there.

joombaga17 hours ago

How would you define "?!" vs "!?" ? I agree they're different. To me the "greater" feeling comes second. "?!" is more surprising, while "!?" is more confusing. With "‽" the feelings are equal.

+2
willhinsa13 hours ago
Y_Y17 hours ago

I would argue that those two choices remain available to you, and that you can reach even finer levels of subtlety by using (or conspicuously not using) the interrobang.

(Just don't use "??!" because that's a trigraph for "|".)

szszrk17 hours ago

"" is a simplification that fits well in keyboard usage and ASCII, but not always real language practices. In my mother tongue we use a „quote”. Our characters in books speak starting from new line with a dash. But it's a different dash from simple minus sign we tend to use online, for simplicity. It's hard to actually use that on the Internet, but in books it's still the way.

coldtea17 hours ago

OCD would use the former as those are more proper typographical quotes. Straight edge quotes is a computer text thing, not a typographical convention for regular prose.

trzeci17 hours ago

You're right. I used to programming quotes so much that every variation from it makes a pain. Especially mentioned below the automatic quote replacement by some text editor. Which does not make sense for me, when I paste a code snippet.

Another pain is when I see such code snippets on the web.

For the clarity, it's not only the US quotes I have a problem with. Other languages have also their corks:

- PL: „quote”

- PL: ‚quote’ (single variant)

- PL: ‘quote’ (british variant)

- FR: «quote»

- DE: »quote«

Udo_Schmitz17 hours ago

DE would be: „Zitat“. »Zitat« is also allowed. «Zitat» is mostly used in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Note missing spaces compared to French.

(Edited after correction from user bloak below)

+1
cygx16 hours ago
+1
bloak16 hours ago
seszett17 hours ago

French quotes, unlike most others, must also be surrounded by spaces (like the other punctuation signs that are made of two parts) like this:

FR : « quote »

And all of the spaces except for the one after the ":" should be non-breaking spaces.

rjsw16 hours ago

One thing that irritates me is seeing "foreign" quoting styles in English, do editors or keyboard settings do this automatically ?

If I'm writing French then I will use «quote», I don't mix things between languages.

+1
frosted-flakes8 hours ago
mzs11 hours ago

Polish also has m-dash quotes for dialogue and nesting quotes that alternate Polish/inverted-French.

https://culture.pl/en/article/pen-to-paper-mastering-the-qui...

kevwil7 hours ago

I am American and can't help but wonder if this is a subtle British joke. This is just poor grammar based on how I was taught, so perhaps some Brits think it's cheeky to call it "American Style", like an American calling a dull stick a "British toothbrush". If so, well played. If not, no harm done, just don't use "American Style".

drivers995 hours ago

Not a joke. I thought the article was going to be about using single quotes vs double quotes. This article mentions that difference as being a reason typographers would put the punctuation inside vs outside the (double) quotes. https://style.mla.org/punctuation-and-quotation-marks/

kdeldycke16 hours ago

I tried to implement some linting rules for quotation mark and punctuation once. Took me way too much time and effort. It's mostly trial and error but good enough I guess to highlight the most blatant abuses.

Anyway, here is the code: https://github.com/sindresorhus/awesome-lint/pull/101/files

lenocinor5 hours ago

Somewhat related — in my experience reading news articles online, it seems like more and more often I’m seeing the period migrate outside parentheses for full sentences. Has anyone else noticed this trend?

codeofdusk12 hours ago

This style of punctuation is "logical quotation", not necessarily British: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Logical_quotation_on...

toby-12 hours ago

This is true. You can find the 'American style' in the UK occasionally, especially in fiction – it's not exceptionally rare.

But regardless, the styles have come to be known as 'American' and 'British' because they generally are preferred in American and British English respectively, even if it's not absolute: Americans tend to be taught US style, and Brits tend to be taught British style.

WarOnPrivacy9 hours ago

I'm an American and was taught the British Style as correct US English. I didn't realize there were different styles - I just figured some folks got it wrong sometimes.

virgilp17 hours ago

Is this just a version of "Prefer tabs over spaces when writing code"? Because if so, I already know the outcome of this debate.

chromatin13 hours ago

No, I think not, because the quotation marks imbue semantic meaning to what’s inside.

anf013 hours ago

Does anyone have any thoughts on date formats? E.g. d/m/y vs. m/d/y?

Akronymus13 hours ago

8601 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601

which can be any of these:

YYYY-MM-DD YYYY-MM YYYYMMDD

aendruk12 hours ago

ISO 8601 is proprietary and people can’t even read it without each paying a $170 access fee. Instead, prefer IETF RFC 3339 (mentioned in your link) which is a more practical open standard.

dcminter13 hours ago

In prose, use month names (i.e. 1st Jan 1979, or Jan 1st 1970). Where numbers must be used for some reason use four-digit-year first if you can. If you can't use the dictated standard or, if there isn't one (raising the obvious question of why that would be), go with the form that will be familiar to most of your readers.

In other words, as with all things, prefer unambiguous forms but consider and respect your audience.

posedge13 hours ago

The only true format is the programmer's yyyy-mm-dd :)

CRConrad11 hours ago

"m/d/y" must die, die, DIE!

a9h74j10 hours ago

Or did you really mean die, die, DIE? :)

CRConrad4 hours ago

Or der, die, das...?

red_trumpet13 hours ago

Just use d/m/y as the rest of the world.

jgwil213 hours ago

How do British people pronounce the date that they write as 15 September, 2021? Americans write the date the same way we pronounce it (September 15), but this leads to the unfortunate mm/dd/yy style of abreviation.

flyingfences12 hours ago

"Fifteenth [of] September"

wombatmobile15 hours ago

I didn’t know these different styles were actual idioms, or that one is “American” and the other “British”.

I’ve just always been unsure.

Now I’ve learned through this discussion that there is no definitive way, I feel freer to play it by ear and write what feels right at the time.

coryfklein7 hours ago

OP: When in Rome, do as the Greeks do because their way is better.

gerikson5 hours ago

The Romans held Greek culture in high regard. It was unthinkable for an educated man to not know Greek.

And of course the "Greek" part of the Empire survived for a thousand years after the Western part petered out.

bencollier4917 hours ago

For some reason, in school in Britain in the 1980s, we were taught rather religiously to always end anything inside speech marks with a comma. I'm not sure where this style comes from, but it confused me terribly and took me years to correct.

jsmith9913 hours ago

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/195902/ending-a-... suggests this is the style recommended by Oxford Dictionaries.

mcguire8 hours ago

Don't expect natural language to logically "make sense". Just don't. It doesn't work by those rules, and trying to force it to do so just leads to seventeenth-century grammarian jackasses and Strunk and White.

gerikson18 hours ago

The linked article correctly uses "British" to denote the style of punctuation, I do not understand why OP decided to use "English" which implies that people in Scotland and Northern Ireland might punctuate differently.

coldtea17 hours ago

>I do not understand why OP decided to use "English" which implies that people in Scotland and Northern Ireland might punctuate differently.

Not sure about the author, but for several countries "English" is colloqualy used as a stand-in for British in general (and England for the UK), as those were the British they most commonly met.

Veen17 hours ago

It's best not to though, unless you want to annoy people from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Most English people will consider it a sign of ignorance too. Beyond that, the "colloquial" use is simply incorrect.

coldtea14 hours ago

>Beyond that, the "colloquial" use is simply incorrect.

Doesn't matter, language follows use, not etymology or geography. If a term has been established as something (in actual use) then it will be used, doesn't matter if it's not technically correct (same way "Indians" was used for centuries for Native Americans, and only fell out of use because of political concerns, not because it was also obviously incorrect and based on a misunderstanding of a whole continent).

erwald18 hours ago

uhm, good point, fixed. that was just a mistake.

edit: for the record, I wrote the article and also posted it here. so I figured I could take the liberty of changing the title when sharing here.

dgb2317 hours ago

Also the article's title is more juicy. HN sometimes goes overboard with editing titles. I guess it is a matter of taste.

gerikson8 hours ago

This is an interesting service to track this sort of thing:

https://hackernewstitles.netlify.app/

daviddever23box14 hours ago

I grew up in the United States and was taught that which is referred to here as the “British style”; not sure where this notion of an “American style” originated.

spleen6 hours ago

Putting the period or comma within quotes (the US style) is like tucking your shirt in and then leaving a small part of it out.

aardvark17915 hours ago

I’m not aware of the punctuation mark going outside the quotation being, “British style,” and I’m struggling to find other references to it being so. It’s certainly not what is done in most British typography.

Putting the punctuation mark inside the quotation marks has been a thing ever since printing, and I always thought it was done to avoid have an isolated full stop on a printing plate, which could be damaged relatively easily., but this may be a retroactive justification.

rplst812 hours ago

I found this out years ago, and adopted the British style. It makes way more sense and reads better.

I'll also put in my two cents here about spaces after a period. I always use two spaces after a sentence and one after an abbreviation.

If you only ever use one, there is too much ambiguity around sentences that end with an abbreviation.

vzaliva10 hours ago

Learning English I found American quotation style very weird. It would be interesing to know if any nother language do something like this and where this traidition comes from. We certainly do not do this in russian and ukrainian I've learned in school.

shannifin16 hours ago

Agree with the post; interestingly, in grade school (here in America) I was actually taught both ways depending on the teacher's preference / belief (assuming we were not writing MLA research papers)... this mostly led to perpetual confusion, so we'd often just put the period directly under the quotation. (Of course, couldn't do that for typed assignments.) I remember one of my English teachers accepting both ways because she could never keep it straight herself.

rom1v17 hours ago

The first time I read a book in English, I thought the quotation mark after the dot was a typo/syntax error (it didn't parse correctly, and it made no sense to me).

After so many instances of the exact same typo in the book, I thought the author/editor had a specific problem with ordering quotation marks and dots.

It's only when I read another English book with the same "syntax error" that I realized that it was not a bug in English.

qwerty45612717 hours ago

What is described as the American style seems weird and never came into my mind. If I would ever stumble upon such a style I would think it's a typo.

plandis10 hours ago

The article is written by a German who probably learned British English, so in effect this is some guy telling people they should write in the way OP learned to write?

How did this make it to the front page of HN?

ahwvd37js9 hours ago

It high school I got yelled at when I put the period before the final quote mark. In college I got yelled at when I did the opposite. Both seem completely arbitrary.

Loic16 hours ago

My first association: https://xkcd.com/541/

This is very emotional because we start when being 6 and as such, for many years, you are exposed to only one way to quote or put spaces around punctuation.

I am French, living in Germany and working in English 50% of the time. It is interesting that it is only after maybe 15 years outside of France that now my feeling for what is the right way in one language matches the rules. For example:

    - How do you do?
    - Comment allez-vous ?
Notice the space before the question mark in French. For me, now, it feels right for both, for a long time this was not the case.
dhosek12 hours ago

The British style works best with the Penguin style of using single quotes for the outer level of quotation rather than double quotes. Part of the reason we write “this.” is for esthetics. Compare:

“this.”

“this”.

‘this’.

The middle version looks objectively worse than the first or last.

scott_to_s12 hours ago

The middle version really doesn't look worse. Perhaps you are just conditioned to read the US version and so your aesthetics have been changed by the familiarity with the US format?

optymizer12 hours ago

What makes it _objectively_ worse? Subjectively, I think it looks better than the first one and as good as the last one.

dhosek11 hours ago

The period gets pushed out into isolation by the quotation marks. In Verdana, which is the default font for text on HN, ” is fairly narrow, but for other typefaces, the effect is quite dramatic.

insickness14 hours ago

If you were surprised that someone calmly said, "I can't do that," how would you write it?

This would not convey the correct meaning: She said, "I can't do that!"

This looks incorrect: She said, "I can't do that"!

This looks incorrect as well: She said, "I can't do that."!

ycombinete14 hours ago

The middle one looks the best. I think the simple answer would be to convey it with words instead of an explanation point.

xfz16 hours ago

I think they messed up; the first sentences of each of the first two examples are identical apart from the reference.

> Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.”[1] and

> Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.”[3]

Second one should be:

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus”.[3]

mmmBacon12 hours ago

The American version is often a simplification of the British version. I also find the American version to be more readable. Simpler, easier to use syntax seems preferable to me over verbose style.

chelonian11 hours ago

I think the solution is to always add just a few more words at the end of a sentence:

> Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.” and then said no more.

dragonwriter11 hours ago

Except that a quotation that doesn't end the containing sentence isn't punctuated that way in either US or UK style; with the added text, it would be either:

(UK) Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, ‘I refute it thus’, and then said no more.

or:

(US) Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus,” and then said no more.

happymellon11 hours ago

But there you have just come to the same British conclusion that the end of the sentence is outside the quotation.

kbos8711 hours ago

Im not someone with strong opinions on this sort of thing, but it has never made sense to me that I’d put a period inside quotation marks if it isn’t a part of the quote.

somishere16 hours ago

Logical aspirations aside, punctuation is largely meant to aid in reading.

While some marks provide emphasis, most (other than suggesting connectivity) denote a length of pause.

Punctuation (or lack thereof) that pulls you out of the flow of the reading is, IMHO, really not in the spirit of things ;)

kwertyoowiyop7 hours ago

It is classic HN that this is one of the most active posts of the week!

rossjudson11 hours ago

Teach an elementary school kid yet another wrinkle in the English language around where they should punctuation marks? No thanks.

codefoster11 hours ago

Agreed. Unfortunately, I don't often see examples of a language evolving on suggestion - even reasonable suggestion.

amelius12 hours ago

Sorry, but I prefer less rules over more rules unless they provide some tangible benefit. This is just rules for the sake of rules.

dctoedt12 hours ago

> I prefer less rules over more rules

As you illustrate by saying "less rules" instead of "fewer rules." (I agree with you: For any language, the less that non-native speakers have to worry about tripping over some finicky rule, the better.)

ddek17 hours ago

Interesting. I've always used the 'British Style', but in a mid-90s junior school in Scotland I was taught to always end quotations with punctuation. I guess I just rebelled.

jack_riminton17 hours ago

I also prefer the common British use of commas over the oxford comma

brianmcc17 hours ago

Lovely, the grammatical equivalent of where we put our braces, same-line vs new-line :-)

CRConrad11 hours ago

Fifty-fifty: Opening same, closing new. I'll die on this hill!

est16 hours ago

The American style is like putting closing bracket at the wrong indentation.

coldtea17 hours ago

100% agree.

transfire13 hours ago

I imagine it depends on what you are trying to say...

He said, "Will you?" I said, "No!"

He said, "Will you"? I said, "No"!

He said, "Will you?". I said, "No!".

He said, "Will you?"!? I said, "No!" ;)

aaroninsf8 hours ago

Orthography in specific and natural language in general (formalized and written, or otherwise) is not beholden to be "logical;"

idiosyncratic deviance from established cultural norms looks adolescent in anything other than a private subculture.

Specifically in American English, which unlike French French or German German, does not have a state-sanctioned standards body attempting (and often failing) to police or mandate its evolution.

Earnest advice for those tempted to adopt "logical" style in American English language written communication: adhere to the standards.

Relevant: https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Blog/Item/Ruzvelt%20...

kazinator8 hours ago

Prefer the hackerly style of quotation punctuation: the period ends the sentence:

> Dr. Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus”.

This is one big sentence which contains an embedded quote. The period ends that big sentence.

The quote contains a complete sentence. Therefore, arguably, it deserves its own period.

> Dr. Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.”.

So this matter revolves around the idea that we want only one period, and so the question is which of these two periods do we elide.

I'm arguing that if we are going to elide, the one we should elide is the inner one, because it's of less importance. Eliding the outer one leaves the entire sentence unterminated, whereas the quote is obviously terminated by the closing quote.

(What is the sentence period for? It's for indicating where sentences end, so that the reader doesn't get confused parsing the end of one sentence together with the start of the next one. A closing quote has a solid end indicator already.)

If there are multiple quoted sentences, then those except the last preserve their terminating punctuator:

> Dr. Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “How shall I refute it? Ah, I refute it thus”.

What if the quoted sentence ends in a terminator different from the one of the embedding clause? Then we cannot elide either one:

> Dr. Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “How shall I refute it?”.

Except if the inner one is a period. We can establish the convention that a missing punctuator inside a quote is an implied period (if the quote is obviously a complete clause):

> Did Dr. Johnson really say “I refute it thus”?

Something like that. We should strive, in some halfway rational way, not to leave the overall sentence without terminating punctuation.

(I do not agree that .". has a redundant period. Two different sentences are ending, using their own punctuation marks which are not related, and could potentially be different. I agree that it's ugly. Eliding the inner period is not the same as eliminating it; we are making it implied. Something implied is still semantically there, just not as a visible syntactic token.)

Note that whatever." does not indicate the end of a sentence; it can plausibly continue:

> Dr. Johnson said "I refute it thus." and kicked the rock.

As soon as we have additional words after the quote, we have two periods unless we elide one. In this case, we definitely must not elide the one after "rock". Whereas eliding the quoted one according to the hackerly style leaves a clean result:

> Dr. Johnson said "I refute it thus" and kicked the rock.

user-the-name17 hours ago

The only reason the "American style" exists is a technical workaround: It was easier to damage the expensive lead type used in print shops a century ago if the thin period character was used on the end of the line, rather than the thicker, sturdier quotation mark, so they were swapped as a cost-saving measure.

None of this has been relevant for many decades, and people have forgotten the reason for this rule. It was never correct to do, it was a choice to do it the wrong way around out of convenience.

anandoza12 hours ago

What about sentences that end in a period without a quote? That seems like it'd be much more common.

dredmorbius16 hours ago

Source?

SerLava9 hours ago

Call it "logical quotation" vs "typesetter's quotation".

The American/British dividing line is extremely hazy, and only really cements the typesetter's quotations in the minds of Americans.

ur-whale17 hours ago

About as good as I can think of a perfect example of a first world problem.

bumblebritches516 hours ago

You mean using apostrophes as quotes?

gross

fortran7713 hours ago

No. I will use a Nations’s preferred punctuation. To do otherwise is rude and inconsiderate.

CRConrad11 hours ago

So, which nation ("Nations’s"?!?) did you write that for? Do you know where I -- and all the rest of us who saw it -- are sitting as we read it?

74026 hours ago

Grownups don't worry about this stuff. Just like they don't worry about which programming language style guide to use.

If you're writing for an American audience, use American style. If you're writing for a British audience, use British style. If you're writing a journal article, or for a business, use whatever style everyone else there uses. If you're writing for yourself, use what you like.

Someone12345 hours ago

> Grownups don't worry about this stuff.

Community guidelines[0]:

- When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names.

- Be kind. Don't be snarky. Have curious conversation; don't cross-examine. Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community.

Insinuating that anyone who wishes to discuss this topic isn't a "grownup" seemingly violates two maybe three guidelines. Your comment without the first sentence would have been more constructive.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html