1. gorweave
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    gorweave New Member

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    Quotation Marks--British Style

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by gorweave, Aug 25, 2010.

    Are these correctly punctuated per British style with quotation marks?

    'I think I will,' he said, 'go with Martha to the movies tonight.'

    He called me a 'schlimazel'. (Period outside?)

    The questions 'Who?', 'What?', 'When?', 'Where?', 'How?' and 'Why?' need to be answered in your narrative. (I'm told this is punctuated correctly per British style.)

    I don't see that it is an important difference; either 'beehive' or 'bees' nest' works fine -- the latter certainly saves asking, "What's a 'hive'?".
    (Do I end this sentence with a final period as I have done?)

    Thanks.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why are you asking?... do you normally write according to us rules, but intend to try getting some work published in the uk?

    if you're so unfamiliar with uk rules, it would be best to just write as you're accustomed to doing and let the editor make any necessary changes... that said, many uk publishers are using us-style punctuation now, anyway...
     
  3. Manic Writer
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    Manic Writer Member

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    Wikipedia has an article called American and British English differences which contains a mine of information on the differences between American English and British English.

    To quote George Bernard Shaw (or was it Oscar Wilde?) "Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language."
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    'I think I will,' he said, 'go with Martha to the movies tonight.' This looks correct to me.

    He called me a 'schlimazel'. (Period outside?) Yes, the full stop should be outside.

    The questions 'Who?', 'What?', 'When?', 'Where?', 'How?' and 'Why?' need to be answered in your narrative. (I'm told this is punctuated correctly per British style.)

    Yes, but I'd probably leave out the clutter-making question marks like this:
    The questions 'Who', 'What', 'When', 'Where', 'How' and 'Why' need to be answered in your narrative.

    I don't see that it is an important difference; either 'beehive' or 'bees' nest' works fine -- the latter certainly saves asking, "What's a 'hive'?".

    As in the example you give above, this looks over-punctuated to me, and the below would work as well:

    I don't see that it is an important difference. Either 'beehive' or 'bees' nest' works fine -- the latter certainly saves asking "What's a hive".

    You don't need a comma before a quotation as you do before dialogue, nor do you need to have the question marks, in fact either double or single quotation marks work here because you are not giving a direct quotation.

    I'm also puzzled as to why, if you are American, you are wanting to use British punctuation. If you want to submit to a British publisher e.g. academic magazine, you can usually get clear guides from them.
     
  5. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    'I think I will,' he said, 'go with Martha to the movies tonight.'

    Without 'he said' the sentence would look like this.

    'I think I will go with Martha to the movies tonight.'

    Therefore, should there be a comma after 'I think I will'.

    'I think I will' he said, 'go with Martha to the movies tonight.'

    A sentence like this will have a comma. 'Nevertheless,' he said, I am still going.'
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I will point out that your first example is spit in a very awkward place.

    would be better, if you are to split the quoted sentence at all.
     
  7. gorweave
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    gorweave New Member

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    I'm also puzzled as to why, if you are American, you are wanting to use British punctuation. If you want to submit to a British publisher e.g. academic magazine, you can usually get clear guides from them.


    The reason is that British punctuation with quote marks is undoubtedly more logical; the American way is not.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Can you elaborate? I fail to see how one way is more "logical" than the other.
     
  9. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I can see how the American way is more logical. More often than not, I confuse the "single stroke quotes" with apostrophes. They're completely different punctuation marks with completely different functions, so why would anyone in his right mind draw them the same way? It's irritating as hell when I have to actually point out to myself, "Okay, this is where the dialogue starts, that's where it ends, and THAT is a contraction, so don't let that fool you." It's probably the main reason I never got through our copies of Lord of the Rings. Silly, maybe, but it just goes to show how distracting it is to me.

    The only thing I can see going for the "single stroke quotes," as I so love calling them, is that they save on ink. Use them enough, and you might have a milligram left in your inkwell that we Americans would have wasted on such frivolities as a second stroke. They're also useful when you have quotes inside of a quote. Other than that, I admit to being utterly bamboozled in the truest sense of the word.

    But to actually answer a question, I'd avoid splitting up sentences in the first place. It breaks the flow, and I for one tend to assume that it's intended to place emphasis on a particular part of the dialogue. So in this example...

    "He," Jack said, "didn't come to school yesterday."

    ...I would assume that the writer is trying to emphasize the word He without using italics. Other times, I insert a pause wherever the break is. Kind of annoying, so I tend to overlook things like this completely and pretend there is no break at all.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that if there are quotes at the end of a sentence, all punctuation must go inside. So in your "What's a 'hive'?" example, there would be no period. At least, that's what I've been taught. But I'm a witless American defiling the proud English traditions, so what do I know. :p
     
  10. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    To KP Williams

    But I'm a witless American defiling the proud English traditions, so what do I know.

    What is the above sentence supposed to mean? And why the funny face at the end?
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    British English allows that punctuation, but there is another British style where you write the comma outside the quotation marks when it doesn't belong to the quote:

    Since the quoted sentence, "I think I will go with Martha to the movies tonight", doesn't contain commas "in original", the comma goes outside the quotation marks.

    This style of punctuation is often referred to as the "logical" style, while the other one is often called the "typographic" style, because it looks better in print.

    You need to use the same style consistently throughout a text, of course.
     
  12. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    It was a joke. In my experience, people from other countries tend to view Americans as ignorant or dim witted. We also tend to get on the nerves of the English, with our habit of changing the spellings of various words and whatnot (we have no "u" in color!). The funny face at the end was meant to say "This is a joke! I am not being confrontational!"
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    FAIR WARNING

    If the "UK vs US, which is better" crap even begins to appear in this thread, it WILL be closed.
     
  14. Diablo Robotico
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    Diablo Robotico Member

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    I wasn't aware that the single-stroke quotation marks were specifically a British thing, I just thought it was up to the writer to decide the amount of strokes. I do know that the Lord of the Rings featured single-stroke marks, while the Hobbit has double-stroke, which would indicate it's not just a British vs. American thing (although, perhaps the Hobbit's quotation marks were edited for the US version, while LOTR's weren't).
     
  15. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    I was educated in England in the 1960's and was taught double-stroke speech marks.
    Until I joined this website, this subject has been raised before, I had no idea that things had changed. I have just picked a novel from the shelf Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach. You can't get more English than that. It has single-stroke speech marks. I suppose when reading, I don't notice what is used. However when writing, I do what I was originally taught. I suppose I will have to change my ways, but personally I like double.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Check with your chosen publisher's submission guidelines. But if in doubt:

    1: Any publisher based outside of the UK will almost certainly prefer double quotes.
    2: It is much easier to do a seach and replace to change " to ' than the other way around, because standalone apostrophes are common, but there are no standalone " marks in normal use.

    You still need to know which form a publisher in the UK prefers, and give them what they want. Conversion from double quotes will give you the typographical rather than the logical single quote option, but that doesn't seem to be a major issue. Since both are accepted, I doubt there are UK publishers who will reject a piece for using the typographical option instead of the logical option.
     

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