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Writing within writing: Italics vs Quotations
#11  gmw 03-14-2019, 08:01 AM
Just for fun, Harry, I believe this is correct:

Did she say "Is it raining?"


(According to New Hart's Rules: "When the quoted sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation mark, this should be placed within the closing quotation mark, with no other mark outside the quotation mark—only one mark of terminal punctuation is needed")
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#12  E.M.DuBois 03-14-2019, 09:07 AM
Quote gmw
Just for fun, Harry, I believe this is correct:

Did she say "Is it raining?"


(According to New Hart's Rules: "When the quoted sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation mark, this should be placed within the closing quotation mark, with no other mark outside the quotation mark—only one mark of terminal punctuation is needed")
Would this be applied differently if it was quotes within quotes, like someone speaking? IE: He asked, "Did she say 'Is it raining'?"
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#13  gmw 03-14-2019, 10:20 AM
Quote E.M.DuBois
Would this be applied differently if it was quotes within quotes, like someone speaking? IE: He asked, "Did she say 'Is it raining'?"
I interpret the rule as requiring:

He asked, "Did she say 'Is it raining?'"

That is, the first part of the rule says: "When the quoted sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation mark," (in this case "Is it raining?") "this should be placed within the closing quotation mark", and so that would talking of the inner quotes.
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#14  pdurrant 03-14-2019, 10:36 AM
had had had had had had had

English is flexible enough that it's possible to make a nonsense of any rule.
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#15  RobertDDL 03-14-2019, 01:05 PM
Quote gmw
Just for fun, Harry, I believe this is correct:

Did she say "Is it raining?"


(According to New Hart's Rules: "When the quoted sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation mark, this should be placed within the closing quotation mark, with no other mark outside the quotation mark—only one mark of terminal punctuation is needed")
But Harry's example was
Quote
Did she say "It is raining"?
But what if she exclaimed "It is raining!"?
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#16  issybird 03-14-2019, 01:07 PM
Quote pdurrant
had had had had had had had

English is flexible enough that it's possible to make a nonsense of any rule.
You left out four hads!
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#17  Catlady 03-14-2019, 01:09 PM
Quote gmw
Good catch. As I understand it, in the US expect the punctuation to fall inside the quote regardless of whether it was part of the original text, in the UK it depends on the style you are following. New Hart's Rules, for example, merely notes the difference exists, noting that the US approach to this is "followed in much modern British fiction and journalism."
Quote HarryT
Only in American English. In Britain English the most common convention is that punctuation only goes inside quotation marks if it's part of what's being quoted.

E.g.

She said "Is it raining?"

But

Did she say "It is raining"?

Your examples reflect the rule in American English too. On my side of the pond, commas and periods go inside the quote marks, but other punctuation goes outside if it is not part of the quoted material.
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#18  Catlady 03-14-2019, 01:40 PM
Getting back to the original question, the problem of quotes within quotes and the confusion that can result is presumably at least part of the reason that CMS thinks it's fine to drop them for signs.

It's hard to read something with several sets of quotation marks, as here:Eliminating the quotation marks for the sign definitely helps: (I'd rewrite both of these, but I'm using the clunky examples to make the point.)
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#19  gmw 03-14-2019, 07:59 PM
Quote RobertDDL
But Harry's example was
Quote
Did she say "It is raining"?
But what if she exclaimed "It is raining!"?
Indeed my example was intentionally altered (as I said, "just for fun") to highlight the distinction between comma and period versus question and exclamation marks.

New Hart's Rules (Oxford style), say that "only one mark of terminal punctuation is needed". Review Harry's original example in your quote, and realise the period from the inner quote has been dropped, so dropping either the exclamation or question mark would seem appropriate. I can't find an explicit rule about precedence of terminal punctuation, but I would generally drop the exclamation mark and keep the question mark.

Edited to add:

I finally got my hands on a copy of The Cambridge Guide to English Usage* and it addresses this issue explicitly (if not any more helpfully than I did): "Double question marks (??), or combinations of exclamation and question marks (!? or ?!), are to be avoided except in informal writing (and in chess). Where they might appear on either side of closing quotation marks (because one belongs to the quote, and the other to the carrier sentence), the sentence should be rearranged to avoid it."

* You can never have too many style guides: it makes me feel better to see diverse experts all taking subtly different positions on what is correct, and when you need some excuse to procrastinate you can start trying to work out whether you should be typing "installment" or "instalment", with the help of a dozen different authoritative references. (The Cambridge guide has quite an interesting discussion - noting that the original Oxford Dictionary set them as equal alternatives, and suggests the modern adoption of "instalment" in the UK might have come about because the US adopted "installment". All this I learned while I could have been wasting time working! )
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#20  gmw 03-14-2019, 11:46 PM
The Cambridge Guide to English Usage is arranged a bit differently to other guides, so it took me a while to work out that the book does not appear to give explicit advice on the subject of short signs. However, the book does have some text that implicitly gives away the Cambridge University Press style:

"in the conventional sign NO ADMITTANCE."

"An official NO ENTRY sign makes access by"

"as when the sign says PROCEED WITH CAUTION rather than DRIVE CAREFULLY."

Notice the NO ENTRY version is italicized but the others are not. None of the examples I could find in the text were quoted, but all were fully uppercase.
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