Author Topic: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?  (Read 1412 times)

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« on: January 10, 2017, 09:20:37 AM »
In British English, punctuation marks (like full stops) are normally placed outside quotation marks. But what if a full stop is part of the original text being quoted? Should I place the full stop outside or inside the quotation marks?

For examaple. Here is a passage from Bauer (1998: 78):

I have tried to argue above that none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction. The implication is that any distinction drawn on the basis of just one of these criteria is simply a random division of noun + noun constructions, not a strongly motivated borderline between syntax and the lexicon. However, this type of argument may fail if all of the criteria, insufficient asthey are in isolation, correlate with each other to define two major types.



If I want to quote, for example, the first sentence, should I do it as in (1) or (2)?

1) As Bauer (1998: 78) puts it, "none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction".
2) As Bauer (1998: 78) puts it, "none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction."


I am in doubt because in one book, the same author one time places the full stop inside the quotation mark, the other time he puts it inside the quotation mark. In each case the original sentence is complete (i.e. there is a full stop at the end), it is not just a fragment of the sentence that he quotes.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 10:27:25 AM by Natalia »

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1581
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 10:32:58 AM »
The American system is traditionally the opposite, with punctuation inside the quotation marks, regardless of whether it was in the original source or is added. (I can't comment on the British system from personal experience.)

Personally I find this to be very strange because I don't want to include a question mark, exclamation point, or even comma or period that wasn't in the original. Even a period might give the wrong impression, for example suggesting a sentence ended before it did in the original.

So I usually include only original punctuation within a quotation, even though I'm breaking a "rule" according to some. Sometimes in a formal publication I will follow their rule (and break mine) depending on what is expected of me. It doesn't matter too much, but I do prefer to follow what I said above in general.

So for British English I imagine I would do exactly what you are suggesting: include the punctuation inside the quotation marks if it was in the original (how can that be wrong?), and outside if it is something you are adding.

Note that one common way to get around this entirely is to put a citation at the end of your sentence, and this is often a good habit anyway because we don't generally need any narrative information about who said what as if it's a dialogue. Avoiding that can lead to more impartial and scientific writing. (Of course sometimes it's good to put a quotation in context, so your examples above are sometimes appropriate too. Note that in general you can use the narrative/descriptive style like in your examples when you are discussing opinions or disagreements, or an introduction of a new/important idea, and should probably use the more basic parenthetical citations when you are discussing facts/information in general terms.)
I might try something like this:
Quote
However, "none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction" (Bauer 1998: 78).
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 10:46:57 AM »
But, the part "none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction" is not originally a full sentence. The full sentence is "I have tried to argue above that none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction"

Then I should still put a full stop at the end (as it is in the original complete sentence)?


Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1581
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 11:03:09 AM »
Good question. Either way, then.

The period is literally part of that sentence, so there is no problem if you include it as part of the quotation.
But it also is part of a sentence, rather than a whole sentence, so you could choose to include only the words, rather than the punctuation.

In this case I would say that it seems more like the end of a sentence than an isolated phrase, and the fact that it starts mid-sentence indicates that there was more preceding context. So I would keep the period inside the quotation marks. But that's just my opinion, you don't have to.
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 11:39:22 AM »
I would rather place the full stop outside the quotation if I cite a part of a sentnece, and outside the quotation If I quote the whole sentence.

However, if I want to quote the first two sentences (of the passage I provided below) starting from the part "none of the possible criteria...", then I should put the full stop inside or outside the quotation mark at the end?

To illustrate:


1) According to Bauer (1983: 109), "none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction. The implication is that any distinction drawn on the basis of just one of these criteria is simply a random division of noun + noun constructions, not a strongly motivated borderline between syntax and the lexicon".

2) According to Bauer (1983: 109), "none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction. The implication is that any distinction drawn on the basis of just one of these criteria is simply a random division of noun + noun constructions, not a strongly motivated borderline between syntax and the lexicon."

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1581
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 12:22:56 PM »
It doesn't matter, it's your choice. I'd put it inside the quotation marks, as I said.
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 12:24:59 PM »
But if I quote part of the first sentence and the whole second sentence, I do not quote the whole text right? I just want to understand and stick to one rule.

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1581
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 12:36:29 PM »
It's ambiguous. You quoted the whole sentence, and you also quoted something else. Personally I would say that the period is part of the second sentence, which you did quote.

But honestly this question is not very important. It will come up very rarely, and basically no one will care about what you do with a minor technical detail like this in your paper. If there is someone who might care (like an editor) you should ask them (or they will tell you), because my opinion won't matter then.

Otherwise, my best advice is to just tell you not to worry about it: do whatever seems natural, and I doubt there is any way for you to "get in trouble" for it, however you do it (and if you listen to feedback if it ever comes up).

As I've said, and as you are doing, what is most important is to be consistent, so just make some notes to yourself if you wish so that you always do the same thing in this situation, whatever you choose to do.
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2017, 01:52:12 PM »
Thank you for your comments.

While on the topic, I would like to ask you just one more question.

Once I mentioned an example such as:

One might ask, "how far such an analogical approach can reach"?

In this example, I add the question mark as it is not part of the original. Then, I should quote the source before the quotation mark? As in:

One might ask, "how far such an analogical approach can reach" (AuthorX, 2004: 32)?

Earlier you provided an example such as

However, "none of the possible criteria give a reliable distinction betwen two types of construction" (Bauer 1998: 78).

and the punctuation mark is at the end.


Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1581
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2017, 02:02:29 PM »
The ? is meaningful in that quotation, and I would personally not remove it. It is possible to have a citation outside of a sentence, so you don't necessarily need anything after it:
Quote
One might ask, "how far such an analogical approach can reach?" (AuthorX, 2004: 32)
That is most common at the end of a paragraph, when the citation applies to a whole, but in this case I assume it would be obvious from context that it applies specifically to the direct quotation.

You could also try this, which looks a little strange but is fine as far as I am personally concerned:
Quote
One might ask, "how far such an analogical approach can reach?" (AuthorX, 2004: 32).

Or, the best answer is probably to rephrase your sentence so that (like one of your examples above) the author's name appears earlier, to avoid this problem.


Any of these options would be fine, though.


---
More specifically, however, from a grammatical perspective, this doesn't make sense:
Quote
One might ask, "how far such an analogical approach can reach" (AuthorX, 2004: 32)?
"One might ask X?" is not a question. So it should not end in a question mark. Instead, if you want to follow that format, many authors would use this instead:
Quote
One might ask, "how far such an analogical approach can reach" (AuthorX, 2004: 32).
Simply avoid the question mark, because you are changing the question into an embedded question within a statement. For the same reason, you could include my ?-inside, .-outside version above.

You could also rephrase this as a real question, if you wish:
Quote
But also, "how far such an analogical approach can reach" (AuthorX, 2004: 32)?
(For reasons mentioned above, this is awkward, in addition to the fact that it is unusual to put questions into a paper, except relatively often as titles.)
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2017, 02:27:02 PM »
Thank you for your comments, but I am not sure If I totally understand.

Here is a passage from my thesis:

However, as Lieber and Štekauer (2009) has rightly observed, there are serious problems with these criteria. One might ask, for example, “Does apple pie with right-hand stress denote any less of a single new idea than apple cake, which has left-hand stress? And what exactly do we mean by ‘new idea’? Similarly, is pie any less importantly restricted by apple than cake is? Is window more important in bow window than in replacement window?” (Lieber and Štekauer, 2009: 9).

Is that written incorrectly as for the use of quotation and punctuation?


Here is a sentence from Plag (2003)

One might ask, however, what is meant by “new word”?

He uses the "One might ask" part and puts a quotation mark at the end.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 02:29:06 PM by Natalia »

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1581
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2017, 03:36:42 PM »
Quote
Is that written incorrectly as for the use of quotation and punctuation?
That's fine.
Quote
Here is a sentence from Plag (2003)
That's also fine.

Those are good examples of usage based on meaning, and regardless there are no strict rules about exactly what you must do (unless someone says otherwise for a publication).
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2017, 04:00:28 PM »
 Thank you.

Coming back to my first example, you said that:
Quote
The ? is meaningful in that quotation, and I would personally not remove it.

Quote
One might ask, "how far such an analogical approach can reach?" (AuthorX, 2004: 32)

However, in the original sentence there is no question mark, so I assume that I could not put it inside the quotation, as in the example above. Besides, you once said that I should put changes outside of the quotation marks if possible.

How can I incorporate the question mark in this example?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 04:20:14 PM by Natalia »

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1581
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2017, 05:08:36 PM »
Quote
in the original sentence there is no question mark
Sorry, my mistake. I wouldn't add it then.
Quote
Besides, you once said that I should put changes outside of the quotation marks if possible.
Yes, if you do add it, then you could add it outside of the quotation marks.

However, as I said the way you are using that is not as a question, but as an embedded question. Embedded questions do not have question marks in English.
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline Natalia

  • Linguist
  • ***
  • Posts: 96
Re: Punctuation inside or outside quotations?
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2017, 12:25:08 AM »
I have just realised that "how far such an analogical approach can reach" does not have the structure of a direct question so it would be strange to add a question mark at the end.

The question would be: "how far can such an analogical approach reach?"

I would do it like this then:

At the end of this discussion, one might ask “how far such an analogical approach can reach” (Plag, 2005: 149). The above authors, however, leave this question in its present unsatisfactory state.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 12:34:50 AM by Natalia »