1. BSquared18
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    BSquared18 New Member

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    "Goin'." or "Goin.'" ???

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by BSquared18, Aug 12, 2011.

    Hello,

    I've written a novel about the Old West in which the characters' words are frequently contracted to give the flavor of their language.

    My question is: Using the US, not the UK, convention for quotation marks at the end of sentences, which of the following is correct?

    "I am goin'." "You are doing the talkin'." etc.

    OR

    "I am goin.'" "You are doing the talkin.'" etc.

    Logic tells me that the versions listed first would be the correct ones, but when it comes to this particular issue of punctuation, logic isn't always the final determiner, illustrated by the fact the the US and the UK don't agree on where a quotation mark is placed at the end of a sentence.

    Thanks for you help,
    Bill
     
  2. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Yup. The first one. The reason it's right is because the apostrophe marks a dropped letter. It's part of the word and should be inside the period.

    Whenever the apostrophe (in this case a single quote) goes outside the period is when it's a quote within a quote. For instance: "I heard Abby say, 'I really don't like turtles.'"
     
  3. BSquared18
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    BSquared18 New Member

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    Thanks. Makes sense. BTW, how do I give you reputation points?

    Bill
     
  4. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeh. I'd go with your logic. Rationale: Since the words are actually contractions, they should be treated just as any other contraction ... can't, you'll, he's, etc. The apostrophe replaces the missing letter or letters. In this case, the ending 'g', so it is part of the word and should be included within the sentence, ended with the period and not set off after the period.
     
  5. GlennMcCrary
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    GlennMcCrary New Member

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    Goin'
     
  6. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I say don't bother if it's dialogue. Looks messy in modern writing. Most readers aren't stupid and will get what you mean.
     
  7. Jayyy1014
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    Jayyy1014 Jerrica Contributor

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    Goin'. It (Somehow) shows slang. Trust me I use words like Goin', roun', ridin' fishin' and all that good stuff, like all the time.:p HAha
     
  8. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I agree with this. If you're dropping the last letter or changing it in dialogue, you probably don't need an apostrophe unless the word could be confused without it. For example, goin is fine, ennet? But if I wanted you to sin' it with a merry tune, you'd need the apostrophe to avoid confusion. As others have said, this goes with the word, not with the sentence (i.e: won't fall outside the period or other punctuation). The idea is to make it understandable and clear without requiring the reader to slow down and think it over ... too much. :)
     
  9. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    If I saw "goin" in a novel I would assume it was a typo. I would know what it meant, but it would bug me. Or wonder if they'd meant "coin".
     
  10. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Really depends on the context though. Hard to put "coin" in "Are you goin to the big city tomorrow?"
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I should be goin', otherwise it would be read to rhyme with groin.
     
  12. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    yeah, only if the reader completely lacked common sense lol
     
  13. BSquared18
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    BSquared18 New Member

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    I respectfully disagree, although both sides of this issue can certainly be defended.

    Using contractions doesn't imply that readers are "stupid." My own feeling is that language, like life, sometimes is "messy," and that we shouldn't shy away from that fact. For example, in my novel are characters that come from a variety of backgrounds, regions, and educational levels. Using contractions and other ways to distinguish how these people talk helps the reader, I think, as well as adding vitality to the language.

    For example, supposing you had a British nobleman and Cockney talking to each other. Wouldn't it make sense to emphasize the differences in the way they talk? After all, all you have are the words on the page. You don't have an audio recording. So, if you have a character saying. "'Ow are you, guv'ner?" your mental ear can translate those words into that character's particular way of speaking.

    It's a moot point for me at this stage. I'm not planning to go back through 75,000 words in the novel, changing every contracted word, even if I agreed with the premise.

    Bill
     
  14. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I took Solar's statement to mean don't bother with the apostrophe, but looking back, it is a bit vague. :)
     
  15. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol i was talking about the apostrophe
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't confuse apostrophes with single quotation marks! A period goes inside quotation marks (in the USA -- in the UK it's more complex), but an apostrophe doesn't have an inside -- it doesn't affect other punctuation, and it isn't affected by other punctuation. So, as everybody else has pointed out, it's "I am goin'." (USA and UK, for what it's worth).
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the apostrophe really can't be left off when letters have been elided... no editor with half a brain would allow that to slip by...
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, at least until the elided form becomes a word in its own right -- auto, flu, phone, car. So expect a few cases where there's disagreement over whether they've become words in their own right or still need apostrophes.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A writer has to work with the current state of language. It's pointless to mention repeatedly that this standard or that may not apply in the future. You aren't going to put your manuscript in a time capsule with a query letter for a future publisher.
     
  20. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Read some Stephen King, specifically his Dark Tower series, specifically The Waste Lands with Jake's pal ol' Gasher (among many others in the series). The apostrophe is included on a lot of the words, such as o' for "of" or y'are for "you are," but not all (e.g: em, tellin, bringin, slappin, cryin, takin, thinkin, etc.). The apostrophe is used for clarity and, as Cogito pointed out, to keep a certain sound to the words. But it's overuse can be just as damaging as its absence: "If I tellin' ya that I thinkin' 'bout slappin' 'em 'cause they makin' 'im o'er there cryin', yar better not git in me way." Compared to the much cleaner: "If I tellin ya that I thinkin 'bout slappin em 'cause they makin 'im o'er there cryin, yar better not git in me way."

    Clarity's purpose is to prevent the word from being confused with another word in the context because of the intentional misspelling (e.g: What with the slow goin' we'll never make it.). "Coin" could work in that sentence. However, "coin" would not fit in "are you goin round the mountain?"

    If the character says the word "going" in a way that sounds like "coin" or "groin" (i.e: single syllable) then you wouldn't use the apostrophe (unless it conflicts with the above-mentioned clarity). It'd simply be goin. If he said "going" in a way that sounded like "going" without the "g" (i.e: go-in), then you would use the apostrophe (e.g: goin'). The biggest thing, whichever way you decide, is to remain consistent (i.e: don't use "goin" for half the dialogue and "goin' " for the other half).

    In the end, it really comes down to your judgement and your use. Perhaps its your intention to have a character whose accent is enough to confuse your other characters. I can't think of any offhand examples of this at the moment except for the movie, Joe Dirt, where he travels to Louisiana and talks to the man in front of his parents' house (for those of you who've watched it). You may want to present your reader with a similar confusion to that of your character, but be very aware in doing this and don't overdo it. :)
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    But I think that it is important to recognise that while language is changing there is always a grey area. I would accept both phone and 'phone, for example, and I'm accustomed to seeing 'flu (which is something of a curiosity, because the illness is not called influ). Mamma's comment that elided letters always need an apostrophe is right, but not the whole story because it's not always trivial to decide whether there are elided letters.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Stephen King is not a good example to follow. He gets away with many things no novice writer would, simply because he is a cash cow that no publisher will tell what to do or not do.
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Much the same as G B Shaw, who also had a thing about apostrophes. He had different reasons for not using them, but he probably got away with it for much the same reasons.
     
  24. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you are correct up to a point.

    But I don't think droppin an apostrophe is a radical linguistic revolution lol

    I think it's more like commonsensical evolution :)

    And young writers should be encouraged to question the elderly pundits who talk with such authority lol

    I'm sorry, but if a technique works, it works. No point in writers blindly following rules just because some pundits are too stuck in their ways.
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the people who are too "stuck in their ways" to agree with your choice includes most or all of the publishers and agents who can get your book published, and you want to get your book published, then, yes, there's plenty of point in following the rules. Is this issue so important to you that you'd rather wait to be published until the publishing world agrees with you?

    Keep in mind that this is not likely to be presented as "We love your book, but we need to change some of your interestingly creative punctuation" at a meeting where you're present and can make the decision, but instead by an initial reader who says, "Sheesh, this guy doesn't know his basic punctuation", rejects your manuscript, and sends you a form letter that doesn't tell you why you were rejected.

    ChickenFreak
     

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