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The balance (45, excluding translations and inexactly matching strings) had ... statistics to bolster my case that the usage is incorrect..g

This must surely be a good moment to abandon the appeal to statistics. All we can say is that a ... in formal writing, I'd be surprised to see a question-mark, and would probably call it a mistake if I did.

Indeed, this may be the only resource the print writer has for representing the infamous rising-intonation-at-the-end-of-a-sentence?
Matti asked: Yes. The Chicago Manual of Style, probably the most widely used stylesheet in U.S. academic publishing, recommends against it:

But these are not related even loosely to "I wonder ...?", which is what we're discussing. So I assume the CMS has no pronouncement to make on it what about any others?

The word 'Chicago' in the title gives me the strange idea that it's not about British English, Matti. Can't imagine why. British newspapers have style manuals. I have one by Keith Waterhouse written for the Daily Mirror, "Waterhouse on Newspaper Style", but it only covers the major topics. I know that the Times has one, but I don't know if it's available publicly. I assume that Fowler has nothing on this topic, as my copy is not to hand.

wrmst rgrds
Robin Bignall
Hertfordshire
England
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I snipped your list, but it's available to anyone who ... you attach any significance to that. I know I do.

It may well be significant, but without data for modern authors I can't tell. It's harder to do a quick survey for modern authors but I wouldn't be surprised, now, to find a similar result.

There's always Amazon.com, which will search the titles and text of every book offered for sale. I asked it about "wonder why" (minus quotation marks) and was informed that it had 93356 hits. Now there's a database. I'm not about to go through it, but maybe someone has more time.

I'm just having fun at this point. I still think a question mark after a declarative sentence begining "I wonder why" ought to be verboten, but perhaps I have another thing coming.

Bob Lieblich
Drowning in "error"
But these are not related even loosely to "I wonder ... pronouncement to make on it what about any others?

The word 'Chicago' in the title gives me the strange idea that it's not about British English, Matti. Can't imagine ... know if it's available publicly.I assume that Fowler has nothing on this topic, as my copy is not to hand.

The 1908 version of Fowler is online at:
http://www.bartleby.com/116 /
The section on punctuation is at:
http://www.bartleby.com/116/402.html
where subsections 11 & 12 suggest that he would not approve of a question mark after "I wonder why".
But I can't help wondering why, a hundred years on, Fowler is still considered an authority? Surely standard usage might be thought to have changed since his day? Admittedly he is a skillful and persuasive writer, but if that is the criterion, why not go all the way back to Dr. Johnson.
This must surely be a good moment to abandon ... and would probably call it a mistake if I did.

Indeed, this may be the only resource the print writer has for representing the infamous rising-intonation-at-the-end-of-a-sentence?

I can see now that these 'I wonder' sentences don't directly address the substantive issue precisely because they occur between quotation-marks. In each case, it's only necessary to believe that the novelist believed that his character, at that point, would have used a rising intonation. On those grounds, the question-mark can be justified. (However, the sheer abundance of examples makes me wonder if this is a plausible justification.)
This is a different issue from whether or not that rising intonation is appropriate, or whether the author himself would have used it. What I've been arguing is that the rising intonation is inappropriate..g
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There's always Amazon.com, which will search the titles and text of every book offered for sale. I asked it about ... had 93356 hits. Now there's a database. I'm not about to go through it, but maybe someone has more time.

I suspect no-one will volunteer, which is unfortunate, for it'd be a far more valuable bit of research than a quickie Google search on the phrase, leaving the researcher open to all manner of characters, both literate and semi-literate. Google is next to worthless, IMHO, for language usage questions. Great for what it was intended for, yes, but not for that. One or two respected members frequently seem confused on that point.

Charles Riggs
email address: chriggs/at/eircom/dot/net
The 1908 version of Fowler is online at: http://www.bartleby.com/116 / The section on punctuation is at: http://www.bartleby.com/116/402.html where subsections 11 & 12 suggest that he would not approve of a question mark after "I wonder why".

I've been fighting through the 3rd edition on this topic, and I don't find those subsections relevantly suggestive. The later of the two is simply concerned about 'internal' marks, and the former seeks to point up cases where the question and exclamation marks have been confused.

Fowler starts his Punctuation chapter promisingly by saying that ! and ? are not stops but tones ; he then spends the remaining sixty densely-packed pages without developing that thought.

Matti
This is a different issue from whether or not that rising intonation is appropriate, or whether the author himself would have used it. What I've been arguing is that the rising intonation is inappropriate..g

It's already been pointed out that a rising intonation isn't, of course, the only way to signal interrogation, and that 'I wonder...' sentences often do serve as questions, particularly in the diffident styles British speakers use for courtesy. So I don't think one can call a questioning or doubtful tone 'inappropriate': surely it's just another matter of taste and convention?
(Would you, for example, rule inappropriate my question-mark after '...surely it's...'? The sentence is certainly not interrogative in form. I probably wouldn't have used the structure in a formal piece, but I don't think it's impossible.)
Mike.
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I

assume that Fowler has nothing on this topic, as my copy is not to hand.

The 1908 version of Fowler is online at: http://www.bartleby.com/116 / The section on punctuation is at: http://www.bartleby.com/116/402.html where subsections 11 & 12 suggest that he would not approve of a question mark after "I wonder why".

This is The King's English . I think "Fowler" is usually taken to mean Modern English Usage (1926), in which he also takes the strict grammatical view. Gowers (1965) seems not to have changed anything here, and says much the same thing in The Complete Plain Words .

It is possible, when speaking, for the tone of voice to turn what is a statement in form into a question in effect, and a question mark is naturally required to reproduce this on paper.

I think this is what we're talking about here.
But I can't help wondering why, a hundred years on, Fowler is still considered an authority? Surely standard usage might ... skillful and persuasive writer, but if that is the criterion, why not go all the way back to Dr. Johnson.

Yes, but 1926 isn't quite such a long time ago, and 1965 even less so.

David
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