LINGUIST List 3.698

Wed 16 Sep 1992

Disc: Punctuation

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. Betty Birner, Re: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform
  2. Mark H Aronoff, Re: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform
  3. Natalie Maynor, Re: Punctuation Reform

Message 1: Re: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform

Date: Mon, 14 Sep 92 09:07:55 CDRe: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform
From: Betty Birner <birnercasbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform

Lee Hartman asks about an article citing a paradoxical example like
"There are three characters in the string 'dog.'" I believe the
article he is referring to (or if not, one that makes the same point)
is Geoffrey Pullum's "Punctuation and Human Freedom," originally
published in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory in 1984 and
reprinted in Pullum 1991, The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and Other
Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language (University of Chicago
Press).

Betty Birner
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Message 2: Re: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform

Date: 14 Sep 1992 10:21:59 -0400Re: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform
From: Mark H Aronoff <MARONOFFccmail.sunysb.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.690 Queries: Unknown language; Punctuation Reform


If you value your time and energy, give up! I have discussed this very
question many times with my editor wife. She has two reasonable points.
First, it looks better to have the punctuation mark inside the quotation marks.
Second, other punctuation marks seem odd outside the quotation marks,
especially in direct discourse in a narrative. For example: "How goes the
battle"? he inquired.
One small consolation: most editors don't give a rat's rear about single
quotes. You can pretty much put them either inside or outside punctuation.
SInce linguists use single quotes for glosses, you can sneak your preferred
practice in at least for those! Small consolation, but hey, take it where you
find it.
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Message 3: Re: Punctuation Reform

Date: Mon, 14 Sep 92 05:45:35 CDRe: Punctuation Reform
From: Natalie Maynor <maynorRa.MsState.Edu>
Subject: Re: Punctuation Reform

> As you know, American practice calls for a period or comma to go
> inside the quotation marks, regardless of the logic or sense of the quote.

I have often heard that this convention is related to the history of
U.S. printing, but I can't find any written information on that bit of
history. I would appreciate any leads anybody can send me on where I
might find out more on the subject. I asked the question on HUMANIST, but
so far the responses I've gotten have been from people who have also heard
that the history of printing is involved but who also don't know any details
and who want me to let them know what I find out. Since I'll be reading a
paper on this topic in less than two months, I'm eager to find out what I
can as soon as I can.

Natalie Maynor (maynorra.msstate.edu)
English Department, Mississippi State University
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