Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wherein the Blog-mistress posits a grammar question and bores her readers

Maybe you can clear something up for me. All through my brief stint in Academia, I was taught that when incorporating a quotation into a longer sentence, one is meant to put the necessary punctuation inside the quotation marks, so long as it doesn't change the essential meaning intended by the original speaker/writer. For example, try this sentence:

Roosevelt's aphorism, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," marks him as a forerunner of the New Age Movement.

You might consider that statement absurd, funny, or even annoying, but you cannot deny that the presence of the comma does nothing to adulterate the meaning of his words, though my editorializing might. Were I to insert a question mark before the end-quotes we would have a problem, and you might think FDR a big sissy-man.

Maybe that is why people are having some sort of aversion, because nowadays, I see sentences like this happening:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", would not have been punctuated thusly in FDR's time.

Was there a conference on this? I don't remember signing any petition... Did we vote on it? I don't see the need for it, and it just looks messy.

7 comments:

GrizzBabe said...

I agree. And I'm not even a grammarian -- a point made evident by reading any one of my posts.

Citizen H said...

Just toss in an ellipsis and fuck it up for everyone!

PS: Tomorrow is National Hug a Retard Day. Don't freak out like you did last year; nobody wants to steal your helmet.

Grant Miller said...

I just learned the "," thing in school and never questioned it. Maybe I should have.

steve said...

Allright Miss Fussy-Britches....I remember this from the Fifth Grade in my 'Treasury for Young Readers...supply punctuation to the following...

John where James had had had had had had had Had had had had the teachers approval.

steve said...

I forgot my manners
"Hi, Kissyface!"

laptop battery said...

Tomorrow is National Hug a Retard Day. Don't laptop batteries freak out like you did last year; nobody wants to steal your helmet.

Antitrope said...

Well, I have a degree in English and I've always excluded punctuation from the quotation if it didn't come originally.

It makes more sense logically, especially if you're aiming for crystal clarity. But if you like putting the commas inside - fuck it, do it. One life, etc.