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End quotes.

She won't like 'this'

NEW YORK - Isn't it "funny" how something can "really annoy" you for ages and then you discover via "the Internet" that the same thing "really annoys" thousands of "other people," too?

The blight that Bethany Keeley exposes on her "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks (


) is of a benign sort, of course, nothing like global warming or endangered wildlife.

But it bothers people mightily just the same, as this 24-year-old grad student and language-lover has discovered from the hundreds, occasionally thousands, of visitors she gets daily. And nary a day goes by when doesn't receive a bunch of e-mail messages with photographic evidence of quote abuse, misuse or overuse.

As in:

A sign in Fletcher, Okla., that advertised a tractor club's ANNUAL SHOW - "Labor Day Weekend."

A restaurant billboard in Madison, Wis., that felt the need to put quotes around "Lunch" and "Dinners."

A bathroom sign that asked visitors to Leave the Light "On" during business hours. ("On" was also underlined. Twice.)

A "Good Luck Amy" cake, which not only wasted frosting on those quote marks, but also added parentheses around the whole message.

Keeley comes from, you might say, a long line of unnecessary-quote watchers, the whole thing having started as a longtime family joke. A communications student who specializes in rhetoric at the University of Georgia in Athens, she started her blog in 2005 after her senior year in college in Michigan. (Her boyfriend, also a rhetoric student, but in Maryland, is a frequent contributor. And proofreader.)

The blog wasn't noticed much at first. About six months ago, things started picking up.

"You know how it happens - one person links to you, then others do. Also, everyone has camera phones now," Keeley said in a phone interview. She recently was linked on Yahoo, which quadrupled her traffic for a couple days to about 2,000 hits - though her record is still about 3,000 in a day.

What draws people? The humor, but also partly, Keeley admits, a sense of superiority, at least grammatically speaking - something she tries to avoid herself.

"I don't consider myself a prescriptivist or a pedant," she said (really). "So I'm open to critiques of my own language. I make plenty of mistakes myself."