2013 Resolution #11.

This year’s eleventh resolution was “I shall make a 11th resolution before April 30th, 2013.” I now have one. Simply put:

11. I shall henceforth employ “logical quotation”.

In other words, if the punctuation isn’t part of the quote, it ain’t going inside the quotation marks.

This may bring the fury of the grammar Nazis crashing down on my head. This may cause people to think I’m stupider than I actually are. This may even end some friendships. And worst of all, it leaves a ugly gap between the bottom of the last character inside the quotation marks and the end-of-sentence punctuation outside them. Look at it up there, between the “n” and the period. Ugh.

But you know what? It’s right. It increases the precision and accuracy of the written quotation while sacrificing nothing in terms of comprehension. Seriously, can you think of a written sentence you could not understand because somebody pushed the comma or the period outside the quotation mark?

Language, whether written or spoken, evolves, and as long as it does so slowly and comprehensibly while improving communication, I think we should welcome it. It wouldn’t be that difficult to adopt– plenty of folks already use logical quotation, though we’ve traditionally called it poor grammar. Maybe those kids who couldn’t quite pin down the rules of punctuation in grade school were just ahead of their time.

Now, let me point out an exception to the above resolution. I’m willing to let others think less of me for my usage, but I’m not willing to let others think less of other others for my usage. For instance, when I write college recommendations, I will continue to use the traditional style. If I live long enough to see logical quotation spread wide and afar, accepted by even the most rectally retentive of grammarians, then in those far-off days, I’ll probably employ it in letters of recommendation. In the meantime, my students won’t be denied entrance to any college because it looks like their recommendations were flung together by some half-literate crank who’s trying to change the world one keystroke at a time.

English is a beautiful language, and I’d like to keep it that way. I don’t mind having eighty-seven different pronunciations for the letter sequence “ough”, because I’m used to the looks of it. Give me “doughnuts”, not “donuts”. But sometimes the gains in precision and accuracy are too great to be ignored, and so it is here with logical quoting. In today’s tumultuous world, that’s the stand I’m taking.

9 comments

  1. How does this work with sentences such as:
    He said, “What’s for dinner?”

    Would it include double punctuation?
    He said, “What’s for dinner?”.

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  2. Hey Mr. V, since we’re talking about grammar, I was wondering how come the new generation of students haven’t been taught grammar as well as past students such as you?

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  3. According to my sons’ elementary teachers: Educators believe there are better things to teach students than grammar and spelling, since they more often than not will be using a device that will correct mistakes for them. I suppose they may have a point, but I still have to read hand-lettered signs written by people who think adding an apostrophe-S is the way to make something plural.

    I am a few years older than Mr. V, and I had a similar question when I was a student in high school. I wanted to learn how to find a square root of a number. None of my teachers knew the “correct” method, because they had used a calculator when they were in school.

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  4. @V&T: Your sons’ teachers are f@#$%^g morons. It is vitally important that you notify them immediately– tomorrow if possible, while it’s still Teacher Appreciation Week. Then tell them to teach as much grammar as possible as early as possible. It will make every other subject much easier to learn.

    In fact, I think grammar is so darn important that I’m willing to let the spelling and math stuff slide. But not grammar. If you not grammar your not think good.

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