This is a joint post by Scott Ramsay and Steve. The topic was Scott’s idea, and Scott (mostly) wrote the part about scare quotes. The boring stuff at the beginning is (mostly) Steve’s.
Photo: scare quotes by Scazon via flickr.com, CC BY 2.0.
Quotation marks seem, on the face of it, the simplest of the punctuation marks. Commas are rampantly misused; semicolons drive us to distraction; hyphens, en-dashes, and em-dashes are cryptic to all but the cognoscenti. But quotation marks? Nothing to it, right? Ah, not so fast…
The rarity of direct quotation
The most obvious function of quotation marks is (and hence their name) to mark a direct quotation. Issues of typography aside*, it’s pretty hard to get that wrong. Except in one way: should you use a direct quotation? Continue reading