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Re: Expected behaviour of quotation marks

From: John Cowan <cowan@mercury.ccil.org>
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2016 16:58:23 -0400
To: ishida@w3.org
Cc: W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>, www International <www-international@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20160406205823.GD30532@mercury.ccil.org>
ishida@w3.org scripsit:

> Now, if we mix languages, i think we would end up with:
> 
> Mais Lucy répond: «Give George my love – once only. Tell him, 'Muddle.' ».

I can't speak to what publishers actually do, but I think that would be
absolutely horrible.  Consider mixed AmE-German:

    His exact words were: “Ludwig XIV. sagte, „Der Staat bin ich.“”

At the end, the German close quote and the American English close quote
are in opposite directions and seem to create an empty string between
them, nor does adding whitespace help very much.  I think the best
compromise is to use the quotation marks of the outermost language only:

    His exact words were:  “Ludwig XIV. sagte, ‘Der Staat bin ich.’”

That seems quite readable, given that the sentence is about *what words
were used*; it's somewhat meaningful even to an anglophone reader who
doesn't know any German.

-- 
My .sigs are from my large and miscellaneous reading both on and off the net.
Occasionally I hear one viva voce or make one up (without attribution,
of course).  I try to stay within the McQuary limit, but sometimes fail,
as in this case.  In general, the quotes are chosen at random by a script
from <http://www.ccil.org/~cowan/signatures>, but sometimes I choose one
on purpose.  I've been collecting and using them for 30+ years.
Received on Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:58:50 UTC

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