single quotes

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu Jun 11 21:58:20 UTC 2009

I get (and relay) a lot of jokes by email, and one thing I've noticed
-- I'm not sure if it's on the increase (I should take the time to go
through archived emails and look), but it's really quite salient
currently -- is the dominant use of single quotes for quotations
rather than double quotes. It's not impossible that all the emails I
get with single quotes in them came first from England or Australia,
but, given who's relaying them to me, they are at the very least
being passed around with single quotes by Canadians and Americans.
Since many people seem altogether uncertain as to which kind of
quotes to use where (I encounter a certain amount of business
documents and emails, which, along with the student essays I used to
grade, have given me this sense rather clearly), I'm interested to
see whether use of single quotes for quotations is increasing in
general, or will increase, in Canada and the US. I'm inclined to
think that if they do, emailed jokes will be (and have been) a vector
for this...

Do my impressions match those of others here?

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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