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[REBOL] English Syntax Re:

From: brian:hawley:bigfoot at: 16-Aug-2000 13:10

Ralph Roberts wrote:
> >The following is a literal string that contains two double quotes > > > > >> print {He said "hi".} > > He said "hi". > > > ><g>Well, to be grammatically correct, it should be: > > >> print {He said "hi."} > He said "hi." > >Sorry, can't resist a correction. As an author, editor, and publisher AND >programmer, this is one of my pet peeves. Punctuation goes inside the >quote. Syntax counts in English as well as REBOL. > >--Ralph
Michael Jelinek wrote:
>The English language has changed its grammar rules in the past, based on >popular usage. This is what makes English (American version, at least) a >"dynamic" language as opposed to something like French which has a rigid >definition which does not change. > >IMO the "period inside the quotes" rule will change, based on popular >usage. I think the only people who write according to the current rule are >authors, editors, and english professors. > >- Michael Jelinek
I gather that the "punctuation outside the quotes" style is already becoming the norm in some circles, notably in technical writing and in Great Britain. This practice is referred to as logical quoting *. In the case above, REBOL is printing a sentence {He said "hi".}, evident from the period at the end, inside the quote marks: {} (in REBOL syntax, forgive me Ralph). That sentence quotes "He", who apparently says the word "hi" outside the context of a sentence, judging by the lack of a period in the quote. If REBOL had printed {He said "hi."}, it would have indicated a sentence _fragment_ that contained a quote of the _sentence_ "hi." - a subtle distinction that is lost with the old quoting style. Logical quoting goes well with precise writing. If I had used the old quoting style above the distinctions between the different sentences above would have been buried in the clutter of commas added to the various quoted sentences and phrases. We do want to encourage precision in writing, particularly among programmers, don't we? Language is a tool for thought, and modern humans must handle increasingly precise thought in modern culture. Anything that assists with that can't be all bad. :) Brian Hawley * See the "Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors" for more discussion of the differences between "New" or "Logical" quoting and the "Old" quoting style.