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Thread: punc question

  1. #1
    Darin Guest

    Default punc question

    should there be a comma or a semicolon in the blank on this sentence?

    After reading “Heart of Darkness,” who could ever forget Kurtz’s dying words__”The horror. The horror.”?

    I think it should be a comma, because it's not a title quotation, it's somebodny stating something. and how about these two sentences, which punctuation is correct?

    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts; at least, that was his explanation for his long hours.
    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts: at least that was his explanation for his long hours.
    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts, at least that was his explanation for his long hours.
    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts at least; that was his explanation for his long hours.

    I believe it is the third one. I used Turabian 3.79 to come up with that answer.
    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: punc question

    3 works for me- the colon doesn't, and I don't like the position of 'at least'in the last. I don't think we need the comma in 1, but the semi-colon works.

    Those are actually Kurtz's last words, but you are also quoting Conrad, which makes it a little complex. You could argue for "'The horror. The horror.'" I'd use a semi-colon as it's a literary quote, rather than direct speech.

  3. #3
    Grit Guest

    Default Re: punc question

    3 works for me also.

    I am sure though, that 'The Heart of Darkness' sentence should have a colon to be grammatically correct, because it is only the colon that is used to introduce quotes.

    It dosn't matter (and therefore makes no difference) whether you are quoting Conrad, or Kurtz, or both - it is still a quote.

    However, there is an ungrammatical convention in the book-publishing world that replaces the colon with the comma in this type of instance.

    This is interesting, and I assume this is because novels contain a lot of one-line sentences, and so a lot of commas are easier on the reading eye as a lot of colons.

    The semi-colon is not the correct punctuation - this is used only to indicate a pause intermediate in length between a comma and a full stop.

  4. #4
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: punc question

    Quote Originally Posted by Darin
    should there be a comma or a semicolon in the blank on this sentence?

    After reading “Heart of Darkness,” who could ever forget Kurtz’s dying words__”The horror. The horror.”?

    I think it should be a comma, because it's not a title quotation, it's somebodny stating something. and how about these two sentences, which punctuation is correct?

    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts; at least, that was his explanation for his long hours.
    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts: at least that was his explanation for his long hours.
    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts, at least that was his explanation for his long hours.
    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts at least; that was his explanation for his long hours.

    I believe it is the third one. I used Turabian 3.79 to come up with that answer.
    What do you think?
    Isn't it more a question of the nuance (or possibly meanings) of "at least"?

    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts; at least/leastwise/leastways/if nothing else, that was his explanation for his long hours.

    Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts: at least that was his explanation for his long hours/Jack worked overtime to pay off his debts: that was his explanation for his long hours anyway.

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