Outside the Quotes

For years, kids in America were taught that punctuation marks go inside the quotation mark, regardless of whether you’re actually quoting the punctuation.

“Why?”

I have no clue.  Rosemary Feal, the queen over at the Modern Language Association (MLA) claims it was purely an aesthetic choice, since putting a punctuation mark after the quotes makes it “hang off by itself”.

That always seemed dumb to me, so I sided with the Brits and always put my punctuation where it belonged.  If you’re not quoting the punctuation, why the hell does it belong in the quotes?  Nobody ever provided me with a decent answer, so I never did it.

It appears others are starting to feel similarly: wikipedia’s style guide notes that “logical punctuation … is used here because it is deemed by Wikipedia consensus to be more in keeping with the principle of minimal change.”  If you put punctuation marks in quote that didn’t originally contain them, you are “changing” the quoted text.  The the penultimate sentence, the ellipses were obviously not in the original.  Based on the American convention, it is not clear whether the period would be.  But, since I side with Jolly Ol’ England on this one, that period is in the original text.  Makes sense, right?

HT: http://www.slate.com/id/2293056/

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