In the time which I've experimented with Linux
and all manner of techie things, I've noticed a constant, willful violation of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
growing within the language of English-speaking geeks. Every day, this phenomenon extends further and further, it seems.
Slowly in quotations, the periods and the commas are switching place with the quotation marks. What do I mean? Well, take a recent node, Troll for the Ages, by TheBooBooKitty. In it, the wise Kitty postulates that
A proper troll should have a title like, "Everything2 is Becoming a Little More Communist Everyday", while an improper troll would have a title like, "Everything2 is just a bunch of god damn wankers".
Notice how the pipes end. They do not end in the order period-quotation marks or comma-quotation marks, as is standard in the Queen's English
. Rather the punctuation
has been reversed. I don't think that this instance was a typo
, nor do I think the hundreds of other violations were. I believe it is an intended departure from normal rules.
In the past, total integrity of the greater ideas within a missive was required, hence, something set off in quotation marks framed the complete thought, including a period or comma. But as technology advanced, the need of technical speech developed. Here, total integrity of the letters themselves is required. A trailing character within a quotation, required by grammatical tradition, could introduce unnecessary error to the data. Example:
You want to enter at the shell "gcc -cf ."
Here exists some confusion. (well, not a lot if you're really familiar with bash
but bear with me) Does the trailing dot belong in the shell command? Who knows? The following is far superior.
You want to enter at the shell "gcc -cf".
So the period began to be pushed to the outside of technical quotations. And even now as the days go by, it permeates the wider English language
more and more.
In fifty years, will the Oxford English Dictionary note and accept this change to the ever-pliable interchange medium which is English?
pvb pointed out to me that you could put the command on a separate line or rephrase the sentence to avoid having a period nearby the command. Good point.
HongPong wonders what the sed command to transpose ASCII 34 and ASCII 46 is.