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English vs. Computerish

Mike-Kaye

I'm not done with Z but another story got in the way. Part of this new story has the MC teaching a two-lady class some computer stuff.

I explained and, or, and exclusive or using my whiteboard. I wrote 1100 with 0111 under it. "Chrissy, the and operation on these two binary numbers is …it's okay to think out loud."

She began cautiously, "And means any zero means a zero result … both bits one gives a one in the result … [I waited patiently] so the and operation produces 0100."

"Chrissy, that's right. Beth, what is the result with or?"

"Or means either right?" I remained silent. "So the result is … 1111."

"Are you sure?"

"If I understand what is written on the left of your whiteboard it has to be right."

"It's right. Now both of you do exclusive or and write it down. Put your pencils down when you get an answer."


The words 'and' and 'or' in much of the above are not so much English as Computerish. How, or better, should I differentiate Computerish from English in the quoted text?

If my story fragment reads okay to those not into low-level computer operations I will leave good enough alone. After all I am, quite thankfully, not writing documentation.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Mike-Kaye

and, or, and exclusive or using ...

Please make that: and, or, and exclusive or using ...

I had trouble parsing that even though I am a former programmer and know exactly what to expect.

Also, I predict whinges from some here about your use of square brackets. I'll start. :-) I wouldn't do that. I have that as regular text in between two pieces of quoted dialogue.

Geek of Ages

The general convention when referring to a symbol rather than its referent is to enclose it in (the appropriate level of) quotes: "The cow said the word 'horse'."

That is what I would do here: quote "and", "or", and "exclusive or" when referring to them as technical terms (as I have done in this sentence). I would find putting them in italics to also be acceptable, though more prone to misinterpretation, and also meaning you can't then use italics for emphasis of an answer lest the reader be more confused.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

I predict whinges from some here about your use of square brackets.


I assumed the use of them in the quoted text was the well-understood convention of summarizing elided text, so as to make the quote focus on the important content, which in this instance is the use of logical operators in English dialogue.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


Please make that: and, or, and exclusive or using ...


I agree. Also italicize those words in the other places as well.

It might be clearer if you added the word "the" as in:

I explained the and, or, and exclusive or using…

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

That is what I would do here: quote "and", "or", and "exclusive or" when referring to them as technical terms (as I have done in this sentence). I would find putting them in italics to also be acceptable, though more prone to misinterpretation, and also meaning you can't then use italics for emphasis of an answer lest the reader be more confused.

In a story where they will be used frequently, I think you're right. They would diminish the authors ability to use italics for other things. My preference would be single quotes rather than double.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Geek of Ages

well-understood convention of summarizing elided text

The convention is words elided from text being quoted. I think this is narrative about one character inside dialogue by another. I'd probably go with:

She began cautiously, "And means any zero means a zero result … both bits one gives a one in the result."

I waited patiently.

"… so the and operation produces 0100."

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

Yes, I think that it was narration and therefore needed to close the previous quote and open a new one.

But the entire passage was a quote from the story, so using square braces to summarize an elided portion of the narrative was perfectly fine.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

My preference would be single quotes rather than double.


As I noted, it depends on where you are in quote depth. That's why I didn't specify a particular thing: "Bob said, 'Alice wrote down "and" in the box', but I didn't believe him"

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

But the entire passage was a quote from the story

NOW, he tells me! If I'd known that I would not have said anything - and considered such things all a matter between an author and their style guide.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

It was introduced with a description of the scene, referred to as a story fragment, and enclosed in a block quote...what on earth would it otherwise be?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Mike-Kaye

How, or better, should I differentiate Computerish from English in the quoted text?


Yes, you should. Use the < tt> tag or {tt}, so that would be:

I explained {tt}and, or, and exclusive or{/tt} using my whiteboard. I wrote 1100 with 0111 under it. "Chrissy, the and operation on these two binary numbers is …it's okay to think out loud."

Personally, I would put the code in CAPS, but that might be overkill.

If you use the html notation < tt>, there is no space between the < and the tt, I added it here to avoid the forum software eating it.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

what on earth would it otherwise be?

It never occurred to me that you might have cut out your own words when making a post here.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

In a story where they will be used frequently, I think you're right. They would diminish the authors ability to use italics for other things. My preference would be single quotes rather than double.

In dialogue, where you're already using quotes of one kind or another, you alternate, so if you're using double-quote marks, you'd switch to single-quotes and vice versa.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

You're not telling me anything I don't already know.
I don't want to continue with this. I got confused but it never clear to me how the OP had modified their own words they were quoting.

Mike-Kaye

Try number two
I explained the and, or, and exclusive or operations using my whiteboard. I wrote 1100 with 0111 under it. "Chrissy, the and operation on these two binary numbers is … it's okay to think out loud."

She began cautiously, "And means any zero means a zero result … both bits one gives a one in the result … [I waited patiently] so the and operation produces 0100."

"Chrissy, that's right. Beth, what is the result with or?"

"Or means either right?" I remained silent. "So the result is … 1111."

"Are you sure?"

"If I understand what is written on the left of your whiteboard it has to be right."

"It's right. Now both of you do exclusive or and write it down. Put your pencils down when you get an answer."

Switch Blayde recommended the word "the" and I added "operations".

[I waited patiently] Yeh, I know the rules. But this is one sentence with a long pause. If I were reading the story to someone those bracketed words would have to be spoken. Is there a rule for a long pause? Perhaps '…gives a one in the result … … … so the…?

I used italics rather than start a sentence with "'Or…

The storyline involves teaching a computer class. NSFW behavior between the ladies and their instructor is the reason for the story. Only two class sessions out of 12 weeks of instruction are mentioned.

Ross at Play

@Mike-Kaye

Is there a rule for a long pause?

Not that I've seen.

My choice would be a new paragraph.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

And the answer is 1011. :)

Switch Blayde

@Mike-Kaye

Is there a rule for a long pause?


A long pause is an ellipsis. A short pause is a comma.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Geek of Ages

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

While setting things in a monospaced font when it's computer code is reasonable to me in a technical manual, I'd find it really weird to see inside of dialogue in a story. Furthermore, these are technical terms, not code per se.

You should treat them the same way you'd treat any other mathematical operator in dialogue: "Sally, what is four plus four?" "I think pee and not pee is a contradiction" "when you 'or' two binary numbers together..." "I think this sign should be a 'plus' right here"

Geek of Ages

@Mike-Kaye

For a pause longer than an ellipsis would indicate, I usually have a narrative break saying something like "there was a long pause" or "there was a minute of silence before she spoke again"

In terms of typesetting ellipses: https://practicaltypography.com/ellipses.html

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play
Updated:

I doubt you will find this recommended in any style guide, but then, I create a story-specific style guide for each new story I begin. I then make decisions based on what is most suited for that story and record them in my guide.

Using italics for computer jargon could get ugly if you wanted to write:

"Not or, xor!" I yelled in my frustration.

After that, I'd might feel obliged to use bold for emphasis, instead of italics, throughout the entire story.

Using quote marks could get really ugly! What if you wanted to write:

She burst into tears, blubbering, "I thought it should be 'xor' but you said, 'For this you need "or".' "

I suggest this may work best for this story. Perhaps you could replace the opening paragraph from your quote with something like:

I wrote 1100 with 0111 under it to my whiteboard. "Chrissy, I must start by explaining the operands called 'AND', 'OR', and 'exclusive or' which is written 'XOR' ...

After that I would use terms like AND, OR, XOR, IF, CALL, etc. in Roman and all-caps, without using quote marks again, and no further explanation of what that style means.

It's your choice, but I think introducing them the first time with the word called or known as justifies the single quote marks.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

She burst into tears, blubbering, "I thought it should be 'xor' but you said, 'For this you need "or".' "

Where do others place the period for this?
(A) "... you said, '... last word.' "
(B) "... you said, '... last word'."

robberhands

@Ross at Play

Where do others place the period for this?
(A) "... you said, '... last word.' "
(B) "... you said, '... last word'."

(B)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

(B)

Eh?

Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

A.

If the period is part of the quoted material, then it goes within the quotes; otherwise, it goes without.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Is there a rule for a long pause?

Not that I've seen.

My choice would be a new paragraph.

What I would not do is use repeated ellipses! (ex: "Perhaps '…gives a one in the result … … … so the…?") Even if you're using ellipses to denote words edited out, one ellipsis stands for everything edited out, you don't need repeated ellipses.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

A long pause is an ellipsis. A short pause is a comma.

An even longer pause is an info-dump, detailing all the research the author couldn't include in the story itself.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

For a pause longer than an ellipsis would indicate, I usually have a narrative break saying something like "there was a long pause" or "there was a minute of silence before she spoke again"

An action-attribute, where you determine who's speaking by specifying their actions, rather than including yet another attribution, is useful to denote a pause, especially between comments.

Ex:

And then we add the denominator and ...

The instructor returned to the chalkboard and began writing an entirely new equation. The squeak of chalk on the board being the only sound in the room as the class waited for him to finish.

"And we end up with an answer of three," he concluded, turning back to the class.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I suggest this may work best for this story. Perhaps you could replace the opening paragraph from your quote with something like:

I wrote 1100 with 0111 under it to my whiteboard. "Chrissy, I must start by explaining the operands called 'AND', 'OR', and 'exclusive or' which is written 'XOR' ...

And one student broke down, crying hysterically. "Why are you yelling at me? I'm trying, damn it, but this isn't easy for a Romance Languages major to figure out.

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

If the period is part of the quoted material, then it goes within the quotes; otherwise, it goes without.

That makes sense to me. It conforms to the logic behind the placement of question and exclamation marks.

What a commas? My feeling would be if the quoted sentence has not ended (even if the original has a comma, colon, or semi-colon) and you want to continue your sentence after the dialogue, you would then always use:

... last word'," continued ...

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

(A) "... you said, '... last word.' "
(B) "... you said, '... last word'."


AmE = (C) — (A) without the space between ' and ".

BrE = I thought the period goes outside the quote, so it would be:
last word'".

Replies:   Ross at Play
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

When quoting things, a period may be replaced by a comma in those sorts of situations, yes. You place the comma wherever you would normally place the period.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

AmE = (C) — (A) without the space between ' and ".

I will continue using a space between those quotation marks because (1) CMOS recommends that and (2) I prefer how it looks.

BrE and AmE have some differences. I'm not 100% sure but the general principle for BrE is to preserve the punctuation from the original -- whenever practical?

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

You place the comma wherever you would normally place the period.

I had a think about that and my conclusion is I cannot recall seeing anything inconsistent with that being the general rule. So yeah, thanks.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


CMOS recommends that


I didn't know that.

I just found this on a site (not CMOS):

When you are dealing with a nested quotation at the beginning or end of a quotation, you are required to put a space between the nested quotation mark and the primary quotation mark.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

BrE and AmE have some differences. I'm not 100% sure but the general principle for BrE is to preserve the punctuation from the original -- whenever practical?


I found this at: http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/british-versus-american-style.html

The above examples also show that the American style places commas and periods inside the quotation marks, even if they are not in the original material. British style (more sensibly) places unquoted periods and commas outside the quotation marks. For all other punctuation, the British and American styles are in agreement: unless the punctuation is part of the quoted material, it goes outside the quotation marks.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Thank you and thank you for that research.

[Note this will have a smiley face at the end ...] Have you been checked for Alzheimer's recently? I have told you about a space between two quotation marks here ... and you thanked me for the information. :-)

[I cannot think of any key words to search for to find when you did that.]

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

When you are dealing with a nested quotation at the beginning or end of a quotation, you are required to put a space between the nested quotation mark and the primary quotation mark.

That's why publishing marks (i.e. 'curly quotes') come in handy. It's slightly easier to differentiate a single quote from a double quote with intelligent quotes. (Not much, but a little.) However, a lot of people insist on inserting spaces between them just to make it more legible when dealing with text characters.

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