Wednesday, May 17, 2006

THIS BLOG'S NEWS DAY JUST GOT EVEN SLOWER: I am currently engaged in a pitched battle with a colleague over the use of smart quotes -- I am pro-; he is anti-. His argument is that (a) they are a pain to use in modern word-processing programs because when you begin a quotation with an internal quote, the program misreverses the (supposedly) smart internal quote mark; and (b) they are too pretty and make legal briefs "look like Victorian poetry." I acknowledge some minor irritation with the Word macro, but it's really not that big a deal unless you are (1) John Barth; or (2) John Barth's copyeditor. I also think that appealing to my fervent and economically provable disregard for poetry is a brilliant rhetorical move but factually unfounded: the Victorians used Smith Coronas, silly!

My own measured position is that (i) straight quotes are so foreign to the fonts that most of us use on a daily basis (especially Times New Roman) that their usage almost makes the user appear to be assembling the document from various found sources, ransom-note style; (ii) they bear a striking physical resemblance to the marks you would get if, say, you sat on an ill-tempered cat; and therefore (iii) anybody who uses straight quotes is deliberately trying to ensure that his or her writing remains unread or, at least, poorly-received.

So: please use smart quotes, or explain yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment