While consulting Michael Quinion's World Wide Words Web site, I found that among the pages identified as having recently been added was one on "Punctuation and quotation marks" at
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-pun1.htm
Quinion makes a point which I don't recall having been made in recent discussions in these newsgroups about punctuation and quotation marks: "At one time Britain and America agreed. The convention used to be, and in American English still is, to put full stops (periods) and commas inside the quotation marks, irrespective of the sense."
The article is well worth a look.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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While consulting Michael Quinion's World Wide Words Web site, I found that among the pages identified as having recently been ... in American English still is, to put full stops (periods) and commas inside the quotation marks, irrespective of the sense."

Interesting, although I'd have liked him to quote some examples of the claimed earlier British practice (or even to offer a date/period when the change occurred).

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 22 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey.news to harvey.van)
On 18 Jan 2005, Raymond S. Wise wrote

While consulting Michael Quinion's World Wide Words Web site, I ... and commas inside the quotation marks, irrespective of the sense."

Interesting, although I'd have liked him to quote some examples of the claimed earlier British practice (or even to offer a date/period when the change occurred).

You should e-mail him with that desire. He's quite responsive to e-mail requests. However, his last newsletter dated 8 Jan 2005 said he's going to be on vacation and asked that people hold off on sending him e-mail until he gets back "at the end of this month".
For what it's worth, the Fowler brothers in The King's English have a lengthy discussion that shows that the question of stops and quotes seemed to be quite unsettled at that time. However, there's some uncertainty as to when "that time" was, because the book was first published in 1906, with a Second Edition in 1907 and a Third Edition in
1931. My copy is the Third Edition, but I don't have fullconfidence that the updating was thorough.
They start the discussion on page 291 with the remarks

A question of some importance to writers who
trouble themselves about accuracy, though no doubt the average reader is profoundly indifferent, is that of the right order as between quotation-marks and
stops. Besides the conflict in which we shall again find ourselves with the aesthetic compositor, it is really difficult to arrive at a completely logical system. Before laying down what seems to be the
best attainable, we must warn the reader that it is not the system now in fashion; but there are signs that printers are feeling their way towards better things, and this is an attempt to anticipate what they will ultimately come to.
They give some examples, one or two of which conform to present-day Oxford punctuation rules as I understand them, but most of which do not. The latter don't conform to present-day American rules, either.
I see now the full text of the Second Edition of The King's English is at Bartleby.com http://www.bartleby.com/116 / and the section I've mentioned above on quotation marks and stops is at http://www.bartleby.com/116/406.html#1 .
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While consulting Michael Quinion's World Wide Words Web site, I found that among the pages identified as having recently been ... put full stops(periods) and commas inside the quotation marks, irrespective of the sense." The article is well worth a look.

I think I mentioned on another occasion that this seems to be the practice of The Complete Letter-Writer , 1755 and subsequent edns, which isn't a bad source for such data and was popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
For example, p.175 ends a quotation in a letter from Pope to Steel (sic) with a comma before the closing inverted commas: Here, of course, it's possible that the comma is part of the quoted matter. But in on p.145 the comma clearly doesn't belong to the quotation.
(Note that the book doesn't seem to prefer either single or double inverted commas.)
(Note, too, OT, the use of "mankind...their lives". "...its life" would have meant something else to me.)
Mike.
On 18 Jan 2005, Raymond S. Wise wrote

One of his examples does not conform to the punctuation style described in the Oxford Style Manual , and in other British guides I've seen:
* "The police," he protested, "have always been fair to me."
The rule is that if there would not have been a comma in the sentence quoted, then the comma goes outside the quotes in the interrupted quotation (nothing inside quotes unless it's part of what's being quoted):
"The police", he protested, "have always been fair to me."
(His use of double quotes instead of single seems to be a widely accepted British alternative.)
Interesting, although I'd have liked him to quote some examples ... (or even to offer a date/period when the change occurred).

You should e-mail him with that desire. He's quite responsive to e-mail requests. However, his last newsletter dated 8 ... and asked that people hold off on sending him e-mail until he gets back "at the end of this month".

In my first posting in this thread I referred to the remarks made on this subject by the Fowler brothers in The King's English . I did that to be responsive to Harvey's curiosity about the chronology of change. (They recommended punctuation that doesn't conform to either present-day British or American style. They also said that the style they were recommending did not conform to the style usually found at that time. So far as I've seen, they didn't give any examples of what that usual style was.)
In that same vein, it's interesting to compare remarks about stops and quotes in Henry Fowler's 1926 A Dictionary of Modern English Usage and Sir Ernest Gowers's 1960s Second Edition of that book. The 1926 book has examples that are not in accord with present-day Oxford style. The examples in the 1960s book do conform. But in both books the authors say in effect that the style they recommend is not necessarily the same as that commonly in use.
In contrast with those books, Robert Burchfield in his 1996 The New Fowler's Modern English Usage states unequivocally (under "quotation marks) rules that are in the Oxford Style Manual . He makes no mention of any deviation from those rules by British publications.
Incidentally, both Fowler and Gowers say "inverted commas" with no mention of quotation marks that I've seen; Burchfield says "quotation marks (also called inverted commas )".
Wait, are you saying that current BrE practice is to put the comma outside the inverted comma in this case?
'Is it not extremely absurd', said Lucinda, etc.?
I don't recall ever seeing that, but maybe I'm just not being observant (and I don't read many books printed in the UK).
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recent (periods) I think I mentioned on another occasion that ... on p.145 the comma clearly doesn't belong to the quotation.

Wait, are you saying that current BrE practice is to put the comma outside the inverted comma in this case? ... ever seeing that, but maybe I'm just not being observant (and I don't read many books printed in the UK).

The rule if rule it may be called is that a comma at the end of a quotation when followed by something like "he said" is put inside the quotation marks. E.g. But if the comma merely interrupts the quotation, it goes outside: e.g. (Cf the Lucinda example.) On the other hand, if the comma would have been part of the utterance if there had been no interruption, it's placed inside the quotation marks:

These examples come from The Oxford Guide to English Usage , which is what I use when I can't make up my own mind. The Oxford Guide , however, uses single inverted commas where I prefer double: I don't like single as "default", as there's a possible mess with apostrophes (I set out my rather academic approach to quotations in an AUE message at some stage last year, but I'll run through it again if you're really curious!).
Note also that the Guide puts the full stop outside the inverted commas in the last example: my practice may vary according to circumstances, but I think the Guide too is inconsistent here, since it places the stop inside the quotation in its second example. I have the 1993 revised edition: I don't know what may have happened since then.
Mike.
recent (periods) I think I mentioned on another occasion that ... on p.145 the comma clearly doesn't belong to the quotation.

Wait, are you saying that current BrE practice is to put the comma outside the inverted comma in this case? ... The quote is not, "Is it not extremely absurd, for mankind to complain of the short duration of their lives..."

Ray
added used sense." edns, sides deceit comma absurd,'

Wait, are you saying that current BrE practice is to ... (and I don't read many books printed in the UK).

The rule if rule it may be called is that a comma at the end of ... if there had been no interruption, it's placed inside the quotation marks:

Yes, but. There is a further rule covering the quotation of a complete sentence.

Is it not extremely absurd.
then the full-stop/period is replaced by a comma when it is not at the end of the surrounding sentence.
Thus:
'Is it not extremely absurd,' said Lucinda.
or
Lucinda said 'Is it not extremely absurd.'

Peter Duncanson
UK (posting from a.e.u)
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