Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

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Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:57 pm

Apologies for being overly punctilious, but after reading a particular set this past weekend, I have finally decided to bring a regular, but certainly trivial, complaint of mine to the boards. A number of recent sets I've read in practice or tournaments regularly place periods and commas OUTSIDE of closing quote marks. To be clear, some of these are HS sets, though not necessarily written by HS students, not that I figure that would make it any better. The rule is simple: periods and commas go inside close quotes, while question marks and exclamation points do if they're part of the original quote, or do not if they are added for emphasis as part of the integration of the quote into the writer's sentence.

In any case, if there's some reason for this common error, I'd love to know, but otherwise, c'mon, man.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby alexdz » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:11 pm

In some cases, though certainly not all that you are referencing, this can be an American vs. Canadian/European thing. But I agree that it's jarring for an American eye to see "misplaced" punctuation while reading.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:33 pm

Sigh. It is one of the greatest misfortunes of the English language that no country uses American spelling and British punctuation (each being a more logical improvement upon an antiquated standard). Some within America have been fighting the good fight. But until the MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, APA, etc. see the light (or fall, as idolatrous empires must), Chris is, alas, correct.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:58 pm

Oh, right--indeed our British and Canadian friends are more than justified in such wrong-headed punctuation (sorry, John! I think it looks neater to punctuate inside the quotes). Anyway, seriously, I wouldn't have fussed except it seems like something I'm seeing more frequently, but this could be part of being old and assuming most people under 23 are slowly ruining the world.

Edit: Ironic word misuse in fussy punctuation post.
Last edited by ValenciaQBowl on Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby jonah » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:18 pm

When writing for or speaking about NAQT, I write "like this," because it is NAQT style to do so. When speaking for myself, I write "like this", because it is logically correct to do so.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:25 pm

Does this hamper the ability of computers to read and parse questions? If not, I don't see how it possibly matters.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby jonah » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:35 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:Does this hamper the ability of computers to read and parse questions? If not, I don't see how it possibly matters.
Typesetting all questions in 6-point Wingdings would not hamper computers' ability to read and parse questions, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't matter if we did so.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby UlyssesInvictus » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:36 pm

The only time I find myself chafing against these rules is when the sentence is something like:

One line in this poem repeatedly yells, "Moloch!," and another line

And I can't for the life of me get used to that comma right after a punctuation mark. Even worse when it's a period ending the sentence in the original quote.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:28 pm

When speaking for myself, I write "like this", because it is logically correct to do so.


Thankfully I have no need to correspond with you outside of NAQT, sir.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:54 pm

jonah wrote:When writing for or speaking about NAQT, I write "like this," because it is NAQT style to do so. When speaking for myself, I write "like this", because it is logically correct to do so.


I heartily endorse this event or product.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby OctagonJoe » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:49 pm

Technically, British style would be to use single quotation marks pretty much everywhere that we (correct Americans) use double quotation marks, so people who use double quotes and exterior punctuation aren't really following any common publishing style (I say without double-checking if that's true). Nonetheless, as a person who gets paid to care about stuff like this, I don't think this is the issue quizbowl should focus on right now. Consistency is nice, but even then, I'd much rather have a set that was somewhat proofread and had mixed punctuation around quotation marks than a set that is filled with dangling modifiers and other confusing and ambiguous phrasings (not to mention typos, missing words, that time someone somehow copied and pasted the giveaway and answerline for the previous tossup in the middle of the next tossup). There are still many people who don't consider proofreading a priority when producing a set, but maybe in some glorious quizbowl future we will have time to worry about smaller style things instead of glaring grammatical issues.

UlyssesInvictus wrote:The only time I find myself chafing against these rules is when the sentence is something like:

One line in this poem repeatedly yells, "Moloch!," and another line

And I can't for the life of me get used to that comma right after a punctuation mark. Even worse when it's a period ending the sentence in the original quote.


According to my reading of 6.125, Chicago style for this situation would be to delete the comma (One line in this poem repeatedly yells, "Moloch!" and another line . . . [I like the mental image of a line yelling]) since it is not a "title of a work." I'm not sure how I feel about that personally, and none of Chicago's examples fit this kind of situation where the reason there would be a comma is not only from the convention of marking off speech that way but also from the fact that a new independent clause follows. On the other hand, you can also just avoid this situation by making two sentences out of one (One line in this poem repeatedly yells, "Moloch!" Another line . . .).
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby theMoMA » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:55 am

Although most people tend to have a preference and personal style when it comes to punctuation issues like this (or other minor grammar, punctuation, or usage conventions in which there are multiple "correct" ways to do it), I think there is (as Jonah and Rob have alluded to above) a benefit to subsuming your personal style to the conventions of the particular project you're working on (or organization you're working with). I, for instance, think it simply looks nicer to use quotation marks and commas like "this," and while I'd do it that way by default in my own work, I think there's greater value to consistency than there is to adhering to my arbitrary preferences. So if I were working on an event in which most people were going with "this", I'd try to stick to that convention.

That said, I do think there's some benefit to doing things in the American convention within quizbowl. Putting the punctuation outside the quotation marks serves to preserve the integrity of the quoted text. (I have noticed a correlation between people who are interested in programming and people who prefer to quote things like "this", perhaps because that convention has a sort of "language as programming command" logic to it.) In quizbowl, however, the clear presentation of the clues (as read) takes precedence over the visual presentation of the text (on paper). Because the American convention is the presentation that most readers will be familiar with, I think it's good to have the periods and commas within quotation marks, as this is where most readers will expect them, and so it minimizes the chance of trip-ups. This is a pretty minor benefit, but because the main benefit to the outside-the-quotes style is on paper, while the main benefit to the American convention can translate in a small way to an improved reading experience, I think the American convention is slightly preferable for quizbowl's unique purposes.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby alexdz » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:28 pm

To expand on what Andrew just said, I'll reiterate something I posted in a tournament discussion about this issue. For me, as an American reader especially, I'm used to looking for punctuation within the quotation marks. Therefore, when I don't see it there, my brain assumes that there isn't any punctuation and I read it as such. I noticed several times while reading that particular tournament that my inflection would often be awkward or stilted because I wasn't expecting to need to pause for a comma, for instance. That's the kind of thing that throws off the rhythm of hearing a question and processing clues for a player, and can have a small, subtle effect on the flow of a match.

Is it the kind of thing that someone should spend hours fixing instead of editing substantive clues? No, of course not. But it does seem worth doing a quick search for the strings ", or ". to see if they need to be replaced when you're finalizing the documents or doing a copyedit. (Not a foolproof method, but you'll catch the vast majority of them that way for an investment of just a few moments; if you have another few moments, try also searching "? but beware of titles with question marks.)
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby Eddie » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:53 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Sigh. It is one of the greatest misfortunes of the English language that no country uses American spelling and British punctuation (each being a more logical improvement upon an antiquated standard). Some within America have been fighting the good fight. But until the MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, APA, etc. see the light (or fall, as idolatrous empires must), Chris is, alas, correct.


My CO team name is going to be „or fall, as idolatrous empires must“.
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:58 am

Since I've already initiated a fussy punctuation/editing discussion, I'll point out that in NAQT's IS-174, which we read for the CC SCTs yesterday, it seemed consistent (though I haven't gone back to double check, so maybe it was sporadic?) that proper names ending in -s used as possessives did not include an 's afterward, but just the apostrophe, as if they were plurals, as in "Jones' Ford." (Which did not actually come up, just an example, chill out).

Of course, this post of mine would be referred to as "Chris's post," while the automobile owned by that guy would be referred to as "Jones's Ford." What you got for that one, Jonah?
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby jonah » Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:15 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:Since I've already initiated a fussy punctuation/editing discussion, I'll point out that in NAQT's IS-174, which we read for the CC SCTs yesterday, it seemed consistent (though I haven't gone back to double check, so maybe it was sporadic?) that proper names ending in -s used as possessives did not include an 's afterward, but just the apostrophe, as if they were plurals, as in "Jones' Ford." (Which did not actually come up, just an example, chill out).

Of course, this post of mine would be referred to as "Chris's post," while the automobile owned by that guy would be referred to as "Jones's Ford." What you got for that one, Jonah?
I'd need an example (privately, of course) to be sure, but it could be a mistake, or it could be an application of CMS 6.20, 6.21, or 6.22 (as numbered in my 13th edition; I don't know if it changed in later editions) or the second part of 6.12. The short summary of these entries is "you have some leeway in possessivizing nouns ending in sibilants, just be consistent." The CMS is our default style guide when we haven't explicitly chosen to override it (which we haven't on this topic).
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby OctagonJoe » Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:08 pm

jonah wrote:
ValenciaQBowl wrote:Since I've already initiated a fussy punctuation/editing discussion, I'll point out that in NAQT's IS-174, which we read for the CC SCTs yesterday, it seemed consistent (though I haven't gone back to double check, so maybe it was sporadic?) that proper names ending in -s used as possessives did not include an 's afterward, but just the apostrophe, as if they were plurals, as in "Jones' Ford." (Which did not actually come up, just an example, chill out).

Of course, this post of mine would be referred to as "Chris's post," while the automobile owned by that guy would be referred to as "Jones's Ford." What you got for that one, Jonah?
I'd need an example (privately, of course) to be sure, but it could be a mistake, or it could be an application of CMS 6.20, 6.21, or 6.22 (as numbered in my 13th edition; I don't know if it changed in later editions) or the second part of 6.12. The short summary of these entries is "you have some leeway in possessivizing nouns ending in sibilants, just be consistent." The CMS is our default style guide when we haven't explicitly chosen to override it (which we haven't on this topic).

Chicago has very much changed since the 13th edition (which was published in 1982)! The 17th edition just came out at the end of last year, and both it and the 16th edition (which was published in 2010) say to put a possessive s on singular nouns regardless of the ending letter (except in cases like "species," where the singular and plural form are the same, or "the United States," where a singular entity has a name plural in form).
Chicago 17 7.22 wrote:Some writers and publishers prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s—hence “Dylan Thomas’ poetry,” “Etta James’ singing,” and “that business’ main concern.” Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation in the majority of cases and is therefore not recommended by Chicago.

Since quizbowl involves reading things aloud, I think pronunciation is an important factor to consider, so following (current) Chicago style seems preferable. But either way, be consistent (which it at least sounds like NAQT is doing).
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Re: Periods, Closing Quote Marks, and You

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:55 pm

If I'm pronouncing a name like Chris or Dennis as possessives, I'd say "Chrisez" or "Dennisez," which is how they would look as "Chris's" or "Dennis's."

Edit: edits.
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