Author Topic: Which is which: the American or the British standard?  (Read 4277 times)

Miss Mae

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Which is which: the American or the British standard?
« on: December 05, 2010, 08:05:58 PM »
A month ago, I had only one question in mind to ask you. And that is about apostraphes and quotation marks. Then I came across this website that explained that its usage depends ultimately on where the material was written or published. What about in the Philippines? And what about if the material is an online journal?

Joe Carillo

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Re: Which is which: the American or the British standard?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2010, 10:40:10 AM »
In the Philippines, we use the American English Standard, so you’ll be on the right track when you use this standard in anything you write or publish, whether in print or on the web. This would, of course, include the use of the American English style in using quotation marks and the apostrophe.

There are indeed marked differences between American English and British English in using quotation marks. American English uses double quotation marks (“...”) to enclose quotations, and single quotation marks (“.... ‘...’...”) to set off a quotation within a quotation. In contrast, until recent times, the British English style would do the reverse: it would use single quotation marks to enclose direct quotations (‘...’), and use double quotation marks to set off a quotation within those direct quotations (‘.... “...”...’).

I discussed these differences extensively in the Forum in September 2009; you can access the discussions by clicking this link to “The two styles of handling quoted material in English.” Earlier, in March of that year, I wrote about the subject in my English-usage column in The Manila Times, “How to Handle Quoted Material – I” and “How to Handle Quoted Material – II.” Simply click the indicated links to access these columns.

As to the apostrophe, we all know that this mark is used to indicate the omission of letters or figures, the possessive case, or the plural of letters or figures. As far as I know, the only notable difference between the American English and British English usage of the apostrophe is in the possessive case of words ending in the letter “s.” In American English, the possessive form of the proper noun “Jones” for, say, the object “marbles” is “Jones’ marbles” (the extra “s” for the plural is neither supplied in writing nor pronounced); in British English, however, that possessive form is “Jones’s marbles” (the extra “s” is supplied in writing and pronounced as “ses”). I think British English also extends this logic in their use of the apostrophe for the possessive of words ending in “-ss,” as in “Guinness”; if so (and I find this rather cumbersome), they would write, say, “Guinness’s interest in oddities” and pronounce that possessive form as “Guinnesses” simply as a matter of style.

Finally, as to your question on what quotation marks to use for articles in online journals, use the American English style except when you are submitting material specifically to a British website. And when quoting or making an extract from a British publication or website for a Philippine publication or website, use the American English style for quotations and the apostrophe to avoid confusing your primary readers. They will appreciate the gesture and I think the British authors and publishers won’t take offense when you do.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2010, 10:46:36 AM by Joe Carillo »

Miss Mae

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Re: Which is which: the American or the British standard?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2010, 01:08:43 PM »
Thank you. The American English Standard, then.