1. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Quotation marks and commas

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by stubeard, Feb 21, 2011.

    Hi all,

    Please see the sentence below. It comes from an academic journal on women's history.

    Both were “feminist,” but each represented feminism of a different kind.

    Why is it that the speech marks go after the comma? I know it's probably what is requested by the style guide of the journal itself (and the wider academnic community), but I would like to know the actual reason, if anyone knows.

    It doesn't seem right to me. I've always thought that the comma should go after the speechmarks as it is not part of the word being quoted, nor written by the quotee, but placed into the sentence by the quoter. It would be different for dialogue in a piece of prose as, in that situation, the comma or full stop would be 'present' in the speech itself; its task, of signalling the end of the sentence, would be done before the speech came to a close.

    Anyone got any thoughts?
     
  2. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    I see this a lot in mostly American articles, indeed. Imho it is a wrong application of the comma (or period for that matter) within the quotation mark. In dialogues, the comma comes within, but not in a "quotation" mark that is meant to emphasise or to stipulate that the word shouldn't be taken literally. After all, the comma belongs to the sentence, not to the quotated word.
     
  3. holaratcha
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    holaratcha Member

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    Greatly appreciated for clarification. I have gotten this wrong so many times. Well articulated and simplified, thanks.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Perhaps it's an American thing, but I've almost always seen a comma go inside the quotes.
     
  5. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Why is feminist in quotes? Seems unnecessary.
     
  6. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    I agree with Zaffy. Why would you need to put 'feminist' in quotes? And if you think you need to do that, why not put 'feminism' in quotes too?

    Just had a thought. Are you suggesting, by putting it in quotes, that they weren't really feminists in the true sense?
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just guess that feminist is in quotes because they are not typical feminists or they came before the term came about as it is a history journal. It is referring to individuals that could not be feminists.

    The term feminism can be used more freely.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    us rules put commas and periods inside the ""... uk's put them outside...

    it's simply one of the basic differences between us and uk rules 'n regs... like driving on opposite sides of the road...
     
  9. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    The feminist in quotes were just an example - maybe not the best in hindsight. However, as Elgaisma said it may be in the context of the whole justified.

    Holaratcha: you are welcome. Always a pleasure to help someone, and it's even better if you know it is appreciated!

    A quick Google search revealed many sites that explain the issue, with examples. E.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark
     
  10. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    In this context, I can picture the author using his fingers to make the quotation marks in the air while saying it.
    From this I would assume the author questions the validity of the quote, or to specify the claims of the people of the article.

    They claim to be "Christians", but they... (The author is conveying doubt to their title.)
     

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