May 13, 2011, 3:50 pm
Let’s Go British
By Henry Woodbury
United States’ grammarians place commas and periods inside quote marks. The British style is to place them outside. The British have it right. According to Ben Yagoda at Slate, the practice is spreading:
…in copy-editor-free zones—the Web and emails, student papers, business memos—with increasing frequency, commas and periods find themselves on the outside of quotation marks, looking in. A punctuation paradigm is shifting.
Yagoda isn’t ready to credit the internet for this shift. He writes, “I spotlight the Web not because it brings out any special proclivities but because it displays in a clear light the way we write now.” But he does point out several ways in which the digital age affects usage. One that is embedded in my psyche is the logic of computer programming and markup language authoring. You don’t let stray characters inside your quotation marks. Period.
Another is the logic of international readership:
By far the biggest fount of logical punctuation today is Wikipedia, which was started by two Americans but whose English-language edition is by and for all English-speaking countries.
I struggle with these darned things, but I have long agreed that such “logical commas”, as I have heard them called, make more sense than the traditional American style, as a person does not “say” a comma.
Yeah, so I’m in.
Posted by Haakon Dahl on May 18, 2011 at 8:37 am
Yes, I have been using logical commas for a while too. And while we are at it let’s bring back the doubled “l” for gerunds of verbs that end in “l” (“ell”). For example, “combatting“ is still accepted but my spelling checker rejects “travelling“. British English seems to have retained “travelling” and “traveller” as acceptable.
Posted by nosleepingdogs on June 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm