Annoyingly Inconsistent "Quotation Punct."


I've never been thrilled with U.S. quote punctuation in terms of placement of commas inside quotes, and now I can pinpoint an actual grievance.

In standard U.S. punctuation, if you have a list of words in quotes (and this happens to me a lot), then the comma is always inside the right quote. Thus the punctuation of wiki is "wiki," and not " "wiki",." See example below:

I'll list random tech words like /blag/ "blog," /wɪki/ "wiki," and /padkæst/ "podcast."

U.S. editorial experts will agree that this is correct, but it's actually inconsistent with how programming syntax works (and I do that too). In this CSS declaration, the font names are in quotes, but the comma is OUTSIDE the right quote.

font-family: "Charis SIL", "Doulis SIL","Lucida Grande", "Arial Unicode MS"

Why? Because it's a list of variable names (more or less) and the quote is part of the variable while the comma indicates "Next variable, please." You don't want to split up the variable name do you? Of course not. One thing a programmer can rely on is that all syntax is "properly nested". The outer brackets always match as to the inner brackets.

Syntax like { [foo] } is OK as is [ {foo} ] or ( { [foo] } ), but put down one [ { foo ] } or even better ("foo)" and you will be seeing "Syntax error" in your debugging panel.

Linguists also rely on proper nesting. A sound is part of a syllable which is part of a word which is part of a phrase then a sentence. You don't want to mix your syllable boundaries with your sentence boundaries - trust me.

And this makes sense, you want to know whether you are referring to a variable or a command about a variable...just like you want to know which part of your taxes are going to the state, township or the feds.

A quotation mark such as in "properly nested" marks the end of a phrase. Most punctuation like periods, commas and question marks portions of an entire sentence. It really doesn't make sense to me while I would put a sentence level punctuation like a period inside a phrase like "properly nested". (oops "properly nested.")

Even worse my fingers don't like switching between code quotes and non-code quotes. It's too much thinking and slows down the typing process.

I realize this will be a losing battle with any copy editor, but one of the benefits of being a linguist is that you can make a stand against a random writing convention which is annoying you that day.