OT - Pinging Ed

[ Rules of English usage.
1.VerbsHAStoagreewiththeirsubjects. 2.Prepositionsarenotwordstoendsentenceswith.
3.Anddon'tstartasentencewithaconjunction. 4.Itiswrongtoeversplitaninfinitive. 5.Avoidclichesliketheplague.(They'reoldhat) 6.Also,alwaysavoidannoyingalliteration. 7.Bemoreorlessspecific. 8.Parentheticalremarks(howeverrelevant)are(usually)unnecessary. 9.Alsotoo,never,everuserepetitiveredundancies. 10. No sentence fragments. 11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used. 12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos. 13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; itishighlysuperfluous. 14.OneshouldNEVERgeneralize. 15.Comparisonsareasbadascliches. 16.Eschewampersands&abbreviations,etc. 17.One-wordsentences?Eliminate. 18.Analogiesinwritingarelikefeathersonasnake. 19.Thepassivevoiceistobeignored. 20.Eliminatecommas,thatare,notnecessary. 21.Neveruseabigwordwhenadiminutiveonewouldsuffice. 22.Usewordscorrectly,irregardlessofhowothersusethem. 23.Understatementisalwaystheabsolutebestwaytoputforth earth-shakingideas. 24.Eliminatequotations.AsRalphWaldoEmersonsaid,"Ihate quotations.Tellmewhatyouknow." 25.Ifyou'vehearditonce,you'vehearditathousandtimes:Resist hyperbole;notonewriterinamillioncanuseitcorrectly. 26.Punsareforchildren,notgroanreaders. 27.Goaroundthebarnathighnoontoavoidcolloquialisms. 28.EvenIFamixedmetaphorsings,itshouldbederailed. 29.Whoneedsrhetoricalquestions? 30.Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement. 31.Avoid putting apostrophe's in plural's.
And the last one...
32.Poofreadcarefullytoseeifyouanywordsout. ]
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You should run them rules up the flagpole and see if they stick.
--
Ed Huntress



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Our Cliff, the next Strunk & White, the Martha Steward of Prose!
Cupla corrections. Isn't it now "Englich"?
And, #2 is sorta being abandoned, even by some die-hards. Poss. #4.
Overall, totally excellent! Poofreading cracked me up!! ---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll

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I've always thought that rule two is a good one, although not always east to follow.
Regards,
Robin
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to
As Guido says, the prohibition against ending a sentence with a preposition is an arbitrary one that crept into English by the back door. It shouldn't be a grammar rule at all. It should be a matter of learning to write pleasing sentences.
Use the one that sounds better in context. In some contexts ("That is a rule up with which I will not put.") it sounds pedantic and wordy. Better is "That is a rule I won't put up with."
Other times, it sounds better to avoid hanging the prep on the end: "Thousands of people came to the march, of which you and I were only two," versus "Thousands of people came to the march, which you and I were only two of."
That's a rule to use by ear. Then it becomes a matter of how good your ear is for English. <g>
-- Ed Huntress
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Very nice, Cliff.
I'm (sometimes) guilty and blameworthy, but not always, of: 2, 4, 8, 13, 20, 21
My pet-peeves are: 14, 22, 28, 30, 31!, 32!
I think are OK: 26 (if you can work a pun into a well-written piece, I tip my hat to you)

unnecessary.
--
Robert Davidson
President
  Click to see the full signature.
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Ed Huntress wrote:

Speaking as a professional writer, that's the lamest version of this thing I've ever seen. Half of those 'rules' are nonsense.
But considering the source. . .
--RC
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Well, speaking as another professional writer, I thought they were kind of funny.
BTW, as one professional writer to another, don't use single quotation marks in running text.
-- Ed Huntress
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You tell 'em, Ed.
(*Some* _people_....) ;<g>
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Ed

It was only walking.....
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of
marks
Don't use 'em in walking text, either. <g>
They're used for quotes inside of quotes. Headlines and captions (which are not running text, also called body text) are, by convention, assumed to be in quotes that you can't see -- they're implicit rather than explicit. So single quotes are used in headlines and captions, too.
There are different formal styles for these things but NOT for the use of single quotes in body text.
-- Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

And yet single quotes are both commonly used and serve a specific purpose. The latter seems enough to justify them to me. They are also more economical than using the phrase 'so-called'. (And there's another common use for them. To set off material in which the meta-meaning rather than the literal meaning is what is important.)
Now, and more to the point. Are you seriously prepared to defend every rule on that list?
I thought not.
--RC
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are
be
So
of
Certainly they're justified, in their proper place. But if they're misused, one wonders who or what it is you're quoting.

That's for sure. However, using the proper punctuation ("") doesn't require any extra effort.

That's a new one on me.

I'm seriously prepared for a good laugh. I think it was meant to be funny.

Getting too analytical about jokes kind of takes the wind out of them.
-- Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

(I wrote)

Sorry Ed, irony or implied disagreement one of the specific uses for single quotes.

It's not at all clear that double quotes the proper punctuation. At least not in the United States. The sources are divided.
As a practical matter, single quotes clarify the writer's intentions. Double quotes indicate a direct quotation (and presumably that the writer has accepted the material at fact value) Single quotes may or may not enclose a directly quoted word or phrase and but they indicate irony, disagreement or that the meta-meaning of the word or phrase is what is being discussed.
Since it contributes to clarity, I'll continue to use single quotes, thank you.

It shouldn't be. It's extremely common.

In context, it was meant as a cheap shot, not as humor -- which is about all this guy is capable of. Frankly I doubt you believe it was anything else, considering the OP's history and posting style. Unless, of course, you kill-filed him so long ago you've forgotten what he's like.

And the comment on in-line quotes wasn't analytical?
Look, if you want to disagree with me, fine. If you want to defend the twit that posted the original message, also fine. But do us both a favor and address the real issue. Snide ill-becomes you, as does an air of assumed innocence.
--RC

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Jesus, all that happened there is that you got pedantic about what was really a joke. Notice the subject line: Cliff was just passing on something funny that he thought I'd get a kick out of, and it was worth a chuckle. I welcome all chuckles and chortles, and side-splitters, too, when I can find them.
Then you tacked on a cheap ad hominem, so I popped a mild one back at you. Pedantic remarks about grammar that are themselves ungrammatical are worth a mild pop, no? Ad hominems are, too.
Now, I don't want to get into a pissing contest about single- versus double quotation marks. I live with style manuals all day long and I'm not here for a busman's holiday. I'm paid right now as a copy editor, although I do as much writing. Just to settle some dust, I just checked Chicago style, AMA, and Modern Language Association style, plus Brittain's _Punctuation for Clarity_, and I see no mention of the use of single quotes as you're describing. In fact, they use double quotes for all of those circumstances, except that MLA style has a weird one that I haven't seen before: they use single quotes for translation of a foreign word when the translation follows the foreign word "with no intervening punctuation." I think they cooked that one up over a case of Chardonnay. The other major style manuals make no mention of it.
I started writing for a big, classy publisher 30 years ago, and the AP style manual was forced down my throat then. NYT style was our secondary reference. That's where I learned about the use of single quotes in headlines and captions. Both manuals agreed on that point.
So, I'm really curious about where you came up with this "meta meaning" stuff. That's a term from linguistics. Maybe it's in the Style Manual for Linguists. 'Don't know. I've never heard of it if they publish one. <g>
Of course, we all see the (mis)use of single quotation marks in NG messages. We aren't writing for publication here, and it's fun to loosen up. But it was worth a pop in exchange for your cheap ad hominem, and it was funny because you threw in the "professional writer" line. Single quotes used as you're defending them are not literate. Professional writers might use them in a NG message, but they wouldn't seriously cook up a bunch of baloney to defend them if someone called attention to the misuse. There might be a copy editor out there who knows better. So I'll assume you're just trying to push a point to see if you can get away with it. d8-)
-- Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

Okay, first I owe you (and Cliff) an apology. Since I long ago kill-filed Cliff as a useless twit, I don't see his original messages. (Or at least I shouldn't. I need to check that.) When I saw the message, I thought he had posted another of his drive-bys aimed at a third party.
About five minutes after I posted my last message, it occurred to me that I might have gotten that wrong. As indeed I did. So I owe you an apology for that.

Oh hardly a cheap shot. Nor in my opinion an ad hominem. It was the result of long experience with the individual's posting style -- and the fact that he prefers drive-bys to serious discussion. So a drive-by warrants a drive-by.
However in this case I jumped to a conclusion.
Feel free to defend him if you must. But don't you think it would be more appropriate to actually defend him instead of taking a cheap shot at me in return? Making me look bad doesn't make this person look good, after all.
so I popped a mild one back at you.

The problem, of course, is that my comment was not ungrammatical, at least not from my standpoint. It is a common -- and very useful -- usage. I had never heard it questioned until you posted the comment.

And yet as the sources I cited indicate single quotes are commonly used in that fashion. I could have multiplied examples. I realize the style manuals you refer to don't use single quotes in that way, but that leads us into the area of descriptive versus prescriptive usage.
My personal criterion is simple. If the usage contributes to clarity, then use it. If not, it is at best suspect. The use of single quotes in this fashion pretty obviously improves clarity.
The problem with double quotes in these uses is that they are easily mistaken for direct quotations. This isn't a theoretical problem. I have had it happen to me. As you correctly point out, in these uses you are not necessarily directly quoting anyone. Even if you happen to be directly quoting, as I was, the important point was not that the wording was exact but the disagreement.
In fact, they use double quotes for all of those circumstances,

I learned it in journalism school sometime earlier than that. Then I had it reinforced when I worked for the AP. (You have _no_ idea how crotchety the New York copy desk can be.) But, as I say I have been using the convention for years and no one ever questioned it before.
NYT style was our secondary

It's more commonly referred to as the "use-mention distinction". (See: http://www.unconventional-wisdom.com/WAW/ROBERT.html ) It apparently originated in philosophy, but it occurs in linguistics and many other fields. It is also common in ordinary writing.

Since I was a lowly journalism major and am now a lowly free-lance writer, I leave a discussion of what is 'literate' to my betters. I will simply note that it make a useful distinction which is extremely common in all forms of writing. It is also quite well-understood.

Did you bother to read the references I cited? You may not agree with them, but using single quotes in these circumstances is both a common and approved use. And, to repeat, one which aids clarity.

Whether you like it or not, Ed, it is both a common and a useful convention. Since it is useful I intend to keep using it until someone who signs my checks tells me otherwise.
And I repeat the key question: Does it in any way detract from clarity?
--RC
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I don't think your remark rises to the level of requiring an apology to me, but I accept your graciousness, and I appreciate it.

Jeez, I'm not in the business of defending Cliff. I *am* in the business of reacting to gratuitous remarks. <g> I'm not trying to make you look bad, I just stuck you with a little "gottcha." We do it to each other all the time here. If you look back at the original remark I made, you probably will have to admit that it, too, was worth a chuckle. I mean, you stuck your neck 'way out there with the "professional writer" line. d8-)

double
for
as
AMA,
Two of your sources were British, and they do the same thing we do, only with the opposite marks. They do *not* assume that titles and captions are in virtual quotation marks, but, otherwise, it's about the same thing. That is NOT American usage.
Did you check out your third source? Viv Quarry teaches English to schoolkids in Brazil. She probably doesn't know what's British and what's American, and it's unlikely she's much of an expert.

Oh, there's no doubt about that. That's what the Web is so good at: publishing mistakes, intentional or otherwise, and then multiplying them ad nauseum.

Whoa! If you're going off on "descriptive" language, then why did you bring up style manuals? Descriptive language, in the case of punctuation, has no sensible meaning except as a statistical summary of how many people can't write decent English. And that number is extremely large.
The term has meaning in terms of grammar, spelling, or syntax. Not in punctuation. Punctuation is just universal significations of lengths of pauses, of quotations, of emotional expression, and so on. Its *signification* does not evolve.

I think not. It just tells me that you have made an arbitrary distinction between direct quotations and other related uses, and then you've chosen to borrow a punctuation mark that already has a *different* meaning to signify your distinction. As I said, the style manuals and particularly _Punctuation for Clarity_ explain why that is not the convention, and they also disallow the use to which you're putting the single quotation mark.

Not at all. Not in the context you're talking about. You're singling out individual words and phrases. Read what Brittain says about that. It's several paragraphs and nobody else here cares, I'm sure, or I'd quote it.

Rick, if you can show me some examples of that usage in print, from quality American publishers, I'll re-examine the whole issue. There is all kinds of crap on the Web and crappy publishers put out a lot of crap in print, too. If I could use a blue pencil on the screen when I read the online version of _The New York Times_, you couldn't read through it. <g> Web editing is sloppy editing. But something in print, or a direct Web pickup of something that originally was in print, would be interesting.
I viscerally go "ouch" when I see something wrong with the mechanics of professionally produced print. I think I would have noticed it. But maybe not.
Do you have any examples? Again, Web publishing is mostly junk publishing. I wouldn't take any cues from that.

It depends on the context. It's a bad habit, IMO, because it will make a good reader stumble over something that is demonstrably incorrect, according to the authorities that good readers use and live by, and that's bad. Why not just use the style-manual standard, and avoid that glitch?
-- Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

I feel I do owe you an apology. I incorrectly jumped to a conclusion and touched off a long discussion that needn't have happened.
I hate being wrong (gee, how could you tell :-) ) but when I am wrong I believe it's important to point it out and make correction.

You'll notice it's not one I use very often. However given my mistake about the intent of the post I felt I should add some weight to my criticism. It was that or quote some of the stupider 'rules' from that list.

I'm sorry you don't like the examples, but the fact is that it is an American usage. As you can easily verify if you'd care to check.

In this case it's not a mistake. It's a fairly widely used convention. The fact that it doesn't appear in the style books is certainly probative, but under the circumstances not determinative. (Why not, you ask? Because the usage is both common and, most of all, useful. As a writer I'll take a common, useful, convention over what the style books say any day. As a copy editor, you've got a different agenda, of course.)

IIRC _you_ were the one who brought up style manuals. But that's beside the point.
Descriptive language, in the case of punctuation, has no

Nice turn of phrase, but incorrect. As you pointed out in your earlier post, the purpose of punctuation is to improve clarity. (And if you've ever stumbled through a medieval manuscript you'd thank God for that.) Here we have a case which is both descriptive, in the sense of describing a use not in the stylebooks, and useful, as it disambiguates a particular set of cases.

Are you seriously claiming that punctuation hasn't evolved along with the language? I don't think you'd care to seriously defend that proposition.
In fact, of course, punctuation's signification does evolve. Consider the case of the Associated Press stylebook and the serial comma. The 1963 version I learned from said not to use it. The 1970 version said the same thing. But by the early 90s, the AP had changed the style to require serial commas. (As it happened there were good reasons for both positions. However the world changed and so did the style.)

And as I say, it is not _my_ distinction. Do you seriously mean to tell me you've never encountered this before?
As I said, the style manuals and particularly _Punctuation

And yet the use makes the text clearer. I'm sorry, but that is, and always will be my ultimate standard. I write to be understood, not to support an arbitrary convention. (I will freely grant you, however, that most of those conventions exist because they aid understanding. As I say, I'm normally on the prescriptive side of these arguments.)

Incorrect, as it happens. The double quotes do cause confusion and ambiguity. I've seen it happen.
Not in the context you're talking about. You're singling out

I'm sure Brittain has a great deal to say about using single quotes in place of double quotes around words and phrases. He's not the only one. There is an illiterate notion that words or short phrases should be enclosed in single quotes. But that is _not_ the usage here. Single quotes are used to mark off words and phrases not because they are short but because they are used ironically, disagreed with, or to make the use-mention distinction.
If he disapproves of that usage. . . Well, I disagree and so do a lot of other people.

Ed, if you want to go looking I'm sure you can find plenty of examples on your own. I'm not going to break off and go poring through my library to satisfy you about this point. You can deny it all you want, but the fact remains that single quotes are a commonly used convention.

And as I say, I've been doing it that way for at least 20 years, seven novels, one non-fiction book, and a couple of thousand articles, and you're the first person who ever called me on it.

I'm sure I could come up with a lot of them, but I'm not going to go dragging down books just to find examples. It is a rather specific usage which is most useful in argumentative writing and works dealing with words and semantic contexts. (It is also common in philosophical and linguistic works.)

> I don't see how. It's a perfectly straightforward use and not at all likely to be confused with the other common use of single quotes inside double quotation marks.
It's a bad habit, IMO, because it will make a

Because the style-manual standard in this case promotes ambiguity. The single-quote standard doesn't. That's the entire point.
Your argument boils down to 'we do it this way because we do it this way'. Well, some of us do it that way. Other don't and there's an excellent reason for the alternate convention.
So on this one we'll just have to agree to disagree. Or you can anathematize me to illiterate hell.
If you're signing the checks, of course we'll do it your way.
--RC

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wrote:

No, you're not wrong. That is standard American usage.
-- Ed Huntress
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wrote:

funny.
I think it only works with writers and editors. How many people would get excited about a misplaced punctuation mark? An unspaced ellipsis can make me grumpy all day. It's an affliction, unless the pay is very good.
-- Ed Huntress
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