or, Why I should have paid closer attention in English class.
Since I have been called on my usage of punctuation where quotation marks are involved, I plead guilty to the charge of inconsistency. I do not cop to stupidity, but perhaps, on occasion, to ignorance.
I have consulted, via the interwebby thing, of course, with grammar maven Tina Blue. She says that where an interrogative condition exists, use logic, i.e., if the question mark ending the sentence is part of the quotation, place the closing quotation marks after the interrogation point. For example,
Rose asked, "Where is the notebook I left last week?"
Otherwise, place the question mark after the closing quotation mark, as in
Didn't you hear Marian say, "I gave it to Mark"?
Beyond this logical approach, Ms. Blue says, "...the point is that if you are an American, you need to keep your commas and periods inside your closing quotation marks, where they belong.
"And just why, you may ask, do they belong there? Well, it seems to be the result of historical accident. When type was handset, a period or comma outside of quotation marks at the end of a sentence tended to get knocked out of position, so the printers tucked the little devils inside the quotation marks to keep them safe and out of trouble. But apparently only American printers were more attached to convenience than logic, since British printers continued to risk the misalignment of their periods and commas."