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Expected behaviour of quotation marks

From: <ishida@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2016 19:48:56 +0100
To: W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>, www International <www-international@w3.org>
Message-ID: <57055A18.6000804@w3.org>
This is a question about how quotation marks should behave in 
multilingual text.

Typically British English uses ' for a simple quotation, such as:

Mr. Emerson says 'You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you 
can never pull it out of you'.

Let's call these the primary quotation marks.

And for a nested quote British English uses ", such as:

But Lucy replies: 'Give George my love – once only. Tell him, "Muddle."'.

Let's call these the secondary quotation marks. (And by the way, i know 
that in the US they do it the other way around, but i and this book are 

In Canadian French this could be written:

Mais Lucy répond: «Embrassez George de ma part - seulement une fois. 
Dites-lui, ‹Embrouille.› ».

Now, if we mix languages, i think we would end up with:

Mais Lucy répond: «Give George my love – once only. Tell him, 'Muddle.' ».

Or would it be?

Mais Lucy répond: «Give George my love – once only. Tell him, "Muddle." ».

In other words, i'm suggesting that the outermost quotation marks belong 
to the language of the paragraph, rather than the quotation, and that 
the innermost quotes would be those of the language of the quotation. 
But i'm also wondering whether the innermost quotes should use the 
primary or secondary quotation marks.

I'm hoping that there are some people on the lists to which i'm sending 
this who know the/an answer to this question. Once i have that, as long 
as it doesn't descend into a muddle, i will venture to apply it to the 
description of the behaviour of the q element in html5, to see whether 
there's a match.

thanks in advance,
Received on Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:49:06 UTC

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