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commas and periods inside quotes

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Explanations I have seen as to the reason that commas and periods go inside quotes but higher puntuation does not refer to a lead type issue but do not explain further. What exactly is the lead type problem that led to this somewhat irational and inconsistent usage?


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Nov 13, 2002
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:hi: Hi,

Lead Type

This has something to do with old-style printing presses, but quite what the issue is regarding your question on punctuation I've no idea, other than it might have something to do with the physical sizes of the lead letters (I'll have to leave that bit to the experts here!). ;-)

Type metal is a low-melting alloy made by adding molten antimony to lead containing a little tin. This metal cools quickly, pours easily, and can be remelted without too much effort (so old type can be recycled and recast into new letters).

From: http://work.colum.edu/~matma/letterpress/lptype.html


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Sep 21, 2003
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commajf1 said:
What exactly is the lead type problem that led to this somewhat irrational and inconsistent usage?

Grammar Tips said:
Now, keep in mind that this comma and period inside the quotation marks business is strictly American usage. The British don't do it that way. They are inclined to place commas and periods logically rather than conventionally, depending on whether the punctuation belongs to the quotation or to the sentence that contains the quotation, just as we do with question marks and exclamation points.

And just why, you may ask, do they belong there? Well, it seems to be the result of historical accident. When type was handset (i.e., when the letters where put in place on the printing press by hand), a period or comma outside of quotation marks at the end of a sentence tended to get knocked out of position, so the printers tucked the little devils inside the quotation marks to keep them safe and out of trouble. But apparently only American printers were more attached to convenience than logic, since British printers continued to risk the misalignment of their periods and commas.

Read More... CLICK HERE

All the best, :D
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