Quotation mark

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Quotation marks or inverted commas (informally referred to as quotes[1] and speech marks) are punctuation marks used in pairs to set off speech, a quotation, a phrase or a word. The pair consists of an opening quotation mark and a closing quotation mark, which may or may not be the same character.

They have a variety of forms in different languages and in different media:

For fragments of a human expression placed inside quotation marks, see Quotation.

In English usage, they come as pairs in two forms: as single quotation marks (‘. . .’), and as double quotation marks (“. . .”).


[edit] Usage

[edit] Quotations and speech

Single or double quotation marks denote either speech or a quotation. Neither style – single or double – is an absolute rule, though double quotation marks are preferred in the United States, and both single and double quotation marks are used in the United Kingdom. A publisher’s or even an author’s style may take precedence over national general preferences.

The important rule is that the style of opening and closing quotation marks must be matched:

‘Good morning, Gagan,’ greeted HAL.
“Good morning, Gagan,” greeted HAL.

For speech within speech, the other is used as inner quotation marks:

‘HAL said, “Good morning, Dave,” ’ recalled Frank.
“HAL said, ‘Good morning, Dave,’ ” recalled Frank.

Omitting quotation marks is generally not recommended.

Sometimes, quotations are nested in more levels than inner and outer quotation. Nesting levels up to five can be found in the Bible.[2] In these cases, questions arise about the form (and names) of the quotation marks to be used. The most common way is to simply alternate between the two forms[3], thus:

‘…“…‘ …   … ’…”…’…”

If such a passage is further quoted in another publication, then all of their forms have to be shifted over by one level.

In most cases, quotations that span multiple paragraphs should be set as block quotations, and thus do not require quotation marks. Quotation marks are used for multiple-paragraph quotations in some cases, especially in narratives. The convention in English is to give the first and each subsequent paragraph opening quotation marks, using closing quotation marks only for the final paragraph of the quotation. The Spanish convention, though similar, uses closing quotation marks at the beginning of all subsequent paragraphs beyond the first.

When quoted text is interrupted, such as with the phrase he said, a closing quotation mark is used before the interruption, and an opening quotation mark after. Commas are also often used before and after the interruption, more often for quotations of speech than for quotations of text:

“HAL”, noted Frank, “said that everything was going extremely well.”

It is generally considered incorrect to use quotation marks for paraphrased speech where they may give the impression that the paraphrasing represents the actual words used.

If HAL says: “All systems are functional”, then:

Wrong: HAL said that “Everything was going extremely well.”
Right: HAL said that everything was going extremely well.

However, another convention when quoting text in the body of a paragraph or sentence, for example in philosophical essays, is to recognize double quotation marks as marking an exact quotation, and single quotation marks as marking a paraphrased quotation or a quotation where grammar, pronouns or plurality have been changed in order to fit the sentence containing the quotation (this is the same as reported speech).

[edit] Irony

Another important use of quotation marks is to indicate or call attention to ironic or apologetic words. Ironic quotation marks can also be called scare, sneer, shock, distance or horror quotes. Ironic quotation marks are sometimes gestured in oral speech using air quotes:

My brother claimed he was “too busy” to help me.

This usage explains why journalistic use of single-word quotes is often seen as editorializing, when in fact the writer may have intended only to indicate a neologism, or a genuine quotation. (The word “claimed” in the first sentence is also understood to imply doubt, and should be used only when required.)

For that reason, quotation marks indicating ironic use of a term should be used with care. Without the intonational cues of speech, they can obscure the writer’s intended meaning. They can also be confused easily with direct quotations, so some style guides specify single quotation marks for this usage, and double quotation marks for verbatim speech.

[edit] Signaling unusual usage

Quotation marks are also used to indicate that the writer realizes that a word is not being used in its current commonly-accepted sense.

In the fifteenth century, we “knew” that the Sun’s revolution divided day from night.
Woody Allen joked, “I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.”

In addition to conveying a neutral attitude and to call attention to a neologism or a slang or special terminology (also known as jargon), quoting can also indicate words or phrases that are descriptive but unusual, colloquial, folksy, startling, humorous, or metaphoric:

Dawkins’s concept of the meme could be described as an “evolving idea”.

People use quotation marks in this way to:

  • indicate descriptive but unusual, colloquial, folksy words or phrases
  • indicate descriptive but startling, humorous, or metaphoric words or phrases
  • distance the writer from the terminology in question so as not to be associated with it. For example, to indicate that a quoted word is not official terminology, or that a quoted phrase pre-supposes things that the author does not necessarily agree with.
  • indicate special terminology that should be identified for accuracy's sake as someone else's terminology, for example if a term (particularly a controversial term) pre-dates the writer or represents the views of someone else, perhaps without judgement (contrast this neutrally-distancing quoting to the negative use of scare quotes)

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), 15th edition[4] acknowledges this type of use but cautions against overuse in section 7.58, “Quotation marks are often used to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense [...] They imply ‘This is not my term’ or ‘This is not how the term is usually applied.’ Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused."

[edit] Use–mention distinction

Either quotation marks or italic type can emphasize that an instance of a word refers to the word itself rather than its associated concept.

Cheese is derived from milk.
“Cheese” is derived from a word in Old English.
Cheese has calcium, protein, and phosphorus.
Cheese has three es.

A three-way distinction is occasionally made between normal use of a word (no quotation marks), referring to the concept behind the word (single quotation marks), and the word itself (double quotation marks):

When discussing ‘use’, use “use”.

The logic for this derives from the need to distinguish use forms, coupled with the mandate to retain consistent notation for like use forms.[5] The switching between double and single quotes in nested citation quotes reveals the same literary device for reducing ambiguitiy.

Books about language often use italics for the word itself and single quotation marks for a gloss:

The French word canif ‘pocketknife’ is borrowed from Old English cnif ‘knife’.

In common usage, there may be a distinction between the single and double quotation marks in this context; often, single quotation marks are used to embrace single characters, while double quotation marks enclose whole words or phrases:

  • The letter 'o' is one of the most used in the English language.
  • The term "cremation" refers to the burning of the body after death.
  • "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" is a well-known quote from 1939 film Gone With the Wind.

The two may, however, in these cases, be to some degree interchangeable.

[edit] Titles of artistic works

Quotation marks, rather than italics, are generally used for the titles of shorter works. Whether these are single or double is again a matter of style, however many styles, especially for poetry, prefer the use of single quotation marks.

  • Short fiction, poetry, etc.: Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Sentinel”
  • Book chapters: The first chapter of 3001: The Final Odyssey is “Comet Cowboy”
  • Articles in books, magazines, journals, etc.: “Extra-Terrestrial Relays,” Wireless World, October 1945
  • Album tracks, singles, etc.: David Bowie’s “Space Oddity

As a rule, a whole publication would be italicised, whereas the titles of minor works (such as poems or short stories inside the collection) would be written with quotation marks.

  • Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
  • Dahl's "Taste" in Completely Unexpected Tales

[edit] Nicknames and false titles

Quotation marks can also offset a nickname embedded in an actual name, or a false or ironic title embedded in an actual title; for example, Nat “King” Cole, or Miles “Tails” Prower.

[edit] Emphasis (incorrect usage)

Quotes are sometimes used incorrectly for emphasis in lieu of underlining or italics, most commonly on signs or placards. This usage can be confused with ironic or altered-usage quotation, sometimes with unintended humor. For example, For sale: “fresh” fish, “fresh” oysters, could be construed to imply that fresh is not used with its everyday meaning, or indeed to indicate that the fish or oysters are anything but fresh. And again, Teller lines open until noon for your “convenience might mean that the convenience was for the bank employees, not the customers.[6][7][8][9]

[edit] Typographical considerations

[edit] Punctuation

The traditional convention in American English is for commas, periods, and question marks to be included inside the quotation marks, regardless of whether they are part of the quoted sentence, whereas the British style places them inside or outside the quotation marks according to whether or not the punctuation is part of the quoted phrase. The American rule is derived from typesetting while the British rule is grammatical (see below for more explanation). Although the terms “American style” and “British style” are used, it is not as clear cut as that because at least one major British newspaper prefers typesetters' quotation (punctuation inside) and BBC News uses both styles, while scientific and technical publications, even in the U.S., almost universally use logical quotation (punctuation outside unless part of the source material), due to its precision.[citation needed] The same style used in British is also typical of other languages, for example, Italian language.

As with many such differences, the American rule follows an older British standard. Before the advent of mechanical type, the order of quotation marks with periods and commas was not given much consideration. The printing press required that the easily damaged smallest pieces of type for the comma and period be protected behind the more robust quotation marks.[10] The typesetter’s rule was standard in early 19th century Britain, and the U.S. style still adheres to this older tradition both in everyday use and in non-technical formal writing. The grammatical rule was advocated by the extremely influential book The King’s English, by Fowler and Fowler.

  • “Carefree” means “free from care or anxiety.” (American style)
  • “Carefree” means “free from care or anxiety”. (British style)
  • “Hello, world,” I said. (both styles)

Today, most areas of publication conform to one of the two standards above.

The American English rule is often not applied if the presence of the punctuation mark inside the quotation marks will lead to ambiguity, for example when describing keyboard input:

In the File name text field, type “HelloWorldApp.java”, including the quotation marks.[11]
Enter the domain name as “www.wikipedia.org”, the name as “Wikipedia”, and click “OK”.
The domain name starts with “www.wikipedia.”. This is followed by “org” or “com”.
  • It is preferred, however, to set keyboard input in a typeface that is different from the body text so that the period or comma does not appear outside of the quotation marks.

In both styles, question marks and exclamation marks are placed inside or outside quoted material on the basis of logic, but colons and semicolons are always placed outside [12]:

Did he say, “Good morning, Dave”?
No, he said, “Where are you, Dave?”

In the first two sentences above, only one punctuation mark is used at the end of each. Regardless of its placement, only one end mark (?, !, or .) can end a sentence in American English. Only the period, however, cannot end a quoted sentence when it does not also end the enclosing sentence:

“Hello, world,” she said.
“Hello, world!” she exclaimed.
“Is there anybody out there?” she asked into the void.
“Goodnight, stars. Goodnight, moon,” she whispered.

References: Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition; Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford; Merriam-Webster's Guide to Punctuation and Style, second edition.

[edit] Spacing

In English, when a quotation follows other writing on a line of text, a space precedes the opening quotation mark unless the preceding symbol, such as a dash, requires that there be no space. When a quotation is followed by other writing on a line of text, a space follows the closing quotation mark unless it is immediately followed by other punctuation within the sentence, such as a colon or closing punctuation. (These exceptions are ignored by some Asian computer systems that systematically display quotation marks with the included spacing, as this spacing is part of the fixed-width characters.)

There is generally no space between an opening quotation mark and the following word, or a closing quotation mark and the preceding word. When a double quotation mark or a single quotation mark immediately follows the other, proper spacing for legibility requires that a non-breaking space be inserted.

So Dave actually said, “He said, ‘Good morning’ ”?
Yes, he did say, “He said, ‘Good morning.’ ”

[edit] Non-language related usage

Straight quotation marks (or italicized straight quotation marks) are often used to approximate the prime and double prime, e.g., when signifying feet and inches, arcminutes and arcseconds or minutes and seconds, where the quotation mark symbolises the latter part of the pair. For instance, 5 feet and 6 inches is often written 5' 6", and 40 degrees, 20 arcminutes, and 50 arcseconds is written 40° 20' 50". When available, however, the prime should be used instead (e.g., 5′ 6″, and 40° 20′ 50″). Prime and double prime are not present in most character sets, including ASCII and Latin-1, but are present in Unicode, as characters U+2032 (dec. 8242) and U+2033 (dec. 8243), and as HTML entities &prime; and &Prime;.

Straight single and double quotation marks are used in most programming languages to delimit strings or literal characters. In some languages (e.g. Pascal) only one type is allowed, in some (e.g. C and its derivatives) both are used with different meanings and in others (e.g. Python) both are used interchangeably. In many languages, if it is desired to include the same quotation marks used to delimit a string inside the string, the quotation marks are doubled. For example to represent the string eat 'hot' dogs in Pascal one uses 'eat ''hot'' dogs'.

[edit] Quotations spanning several paragraphs

For a quotation consisting of several paragraphs, the convention is to start each separate paragraph of the quoted text with an opening quotation mark, but to use a closing quotation mark only at the end of the last paragraph, as in the following example from Pride and Prejudice:

The letter was to this effect:

“My dear Lizzy,

“I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not.

“Yours, etc.”

As noted below, in some older texts, the quotation mark is repeated every line, rather than every paragraph.

[edit] Typing quotation marks from a computer keyboard

Although they are so common in writing, quotation marks and apostrophes are surprisingly difficult to type directly from standard computer keyboards. However, most computer text editing programs provide a “smart quotes” (see below) configuration or preferences setting to convert the “straight” apostrophe and double-quote on the key just to the right of the semi-colon/colon key into typographic punctuation. Generally, the “smart quote” preferences are set, as the default, so writers don't have to worry about the issue. Or they just use the " and ' characters, which have done multiple duty as quotation marks, apostrophes, and primes for as long as typewriters have been used. Some Web sites do not allow typographical quotation marks or apostrophes in posts (one such example being YouTube). One can skirt these limitations, however, by using the HTML character codes or entities.[13]

How to type quotation marks and apostrophes from a computer keyboard
  Macintosh key combinations Windows key combinations Linux (GNOME) keys
Single opening    Option + [ Alt + 0145 (on number pad) Compose < '
Single closing (& apostrophe)    Option + Shift + [ Alt + 0146 (on number pad) Compose > '
Double opening    Option + ] Alt + 0147 (on number pad) Compose < "
Double closing    Option + Shift + ] Alt + 0148 (on number pad) Compose > "

[edit] “Smart” quotes

To make these typesetting characters easier to enter, publishing software often converts typewriter apostrophes to typographic apostrophes during text entry (with or without the user being aware of it). This is known as the smart quotes feature; apostrophes and quotation marks that are not automatically altered by computer programs are known as dumb quotes. Some implementations incorrectly enter an opening single quotation mark in places where an apostrophe is required, for example, in abbreviated years like ’08 for 2008.

[edit] Glyphs

[edit] History

In the first centuries of typesetting, quotations were distinguished merely by indicating the speaker, and this can still be seen in some editions of the Bible. During the Renaissance, quotations were distinguished by setting in a typeface contrasting with the main body text (often Italic type with roman, or the other way round). Long quotations were also set this way, at full size and full measure.[14]

Quotation marks were first cut in metal type during the middle of the sixteenth century, and were used copiously by some printers by the seventeenth. In some Baroque and Romantic-period books, they would be repeated at the beginning of every line of a long quotation. When this practice was abandoned, the empty margin remained, leaving the modern form of indented block quotation.[14]

In Early Modern English, quotation marks were used only to denote pithy comments. They first began to quote direct speech in 1714. By 1749 single quotation marks, or inverted commas, were commonly used to denote direct speech.[15]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Katherine Barber, editor (2004). The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, second edition. Toronto, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-541816-6.
  2. ^ Jeremiah 27:1-11; 29:1-28, 30-32; 34:1-5; and Ezekiel 1-36
  3. ^ Stilman, Ann. Grammatically CORRECT, 1997. p. 181. ISBN 13: 978-089879-776-3.
  4. ^ "The Chicago Manual of Style Online". http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-08. 
  5. ^ Butcher, J.; Drake, C.; Leach, M. (2006). Butcher's Copy-Editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-Editors and Proofreaders (4th ed ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 
  6. ^ Style Manual: University of Minnesota
  7. ^ Language Log: Dubious quotation marks
  8. ^ 3.8—Quotation Marks
  9. ^ Inkthinker: Why Quotation Marks Should “Not” Be Used for Emphasis
  10. ^ AUE: FAQ excerpt: ”, vs ,”
  11. ^ Part of a tutorial on Java programming on Microsoft Windows. Those parts of this page which would not be ambiguous follow the American rule
  12. ^ http://www.tjhsst.edu/~rgreen/grammar/quotes.htm
  13. ^ See the WWW Consortium tables here.
  14. ^ a b Bringhurst (2002), p 86.
  15. ^ Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, 2003. p. 151. ISBN 1-592-40087-6.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, which is licensed under the GFDL.

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