Rabu, 08 Desember 2021

Quotation Marks and Direct Quotations : Quotations

The use of quotation marks, also called inverted commas, is very slightlycomplicated by the fact that there are two types: single quotes (` ') anddouble quotes (" ").As a general rule, British usage has in thepast usuallypreferred single quotes for ordinary use, but double quotes are nowincreasingly common; American usage has always preferred double quotes.Aswe shall see below, the use of double quotes in fact offers several advantages,and this is the usage I recommend here.

The chief use of quotation marks is quite easy to understand: a pair ofquotation marks encloses a direct quotation — that is, a repetitionofsomeone's exact words.Here are some examples:President Kennedy famously exclaimed "Ich bin ein Berliner!"Madonna is fond of declaring "I'm not ashamed of anything.""The only emperor", writes Wallace Stevens, "is the emperor of icecream."

Look closely at these examples.Note first that what is enclosed in quotes mustbe the exact words of the person being quoted.Anything which is not part ofthose exact words must be placed outside the quotes, even if, as in the lastexample, this means using two sets of quotes because the quotation has beeninterrupted.

Consequently, the following example is wrong:*Thomas Edison declared that "Genius was one per cent inspiration andninety-nine per cent perspiration."

Here the passage inside the quotes transparently does not reproduce Edison'sexact words.There are three ways of fixing this.First, drop the quotes:Thomas Edison declared that genius was one per cent inspiration andninety-nine per cent perspiration.

Second, rewrite the sentence so that you can use Edison's exact words:According to Thomas Edison, "Genius is one per cent inspiration andninety-nine per cent perspiration."

Third, move the quotes so that they enclose only Edison's exact words:Thomas Edison declared that genius was "one per cent inspiration andninety-nine per cent perspiration".

All three of these are perfect, since only Edison's exact words are enclosed inquotes.

Now notice something else which is very important: a quotation is setoff by quotation marks and nothing else.A sentence containing a quotationis punctuated exactly like any other sentence apart from the addition of thequotation marks.You should not insert additional punctuation marks into thesentence merely to warn the reader that a quotation is coming up: that's what thequotation marks are for.Hence the first two of the following are bad style,and the third one is wrong:*President Nixon declared, "I am not a crook."*President Nixon declared: "I am not a crook."*President Nixon declared:- "I am not a crook."

The comma and the colon in the first two are completely pointless, while thestartling arsenal of punctuation in the third is grotesque.(Remember, a coloncan never be followed by a hyphen or a dash.)Here is the sentence with properpunctuation:President Nixon declared "I am not a crook."

Adding more dots and squiggles to this perfectly clear sentence would doabsolutely nothing to improve it.No punctuation mark should be used if it isnot necessary.

On the other hand, the presence of quotation marks does not remove thenecessity of using other punctuation which is required for independent reasons.Look again at these examples:According to Thomas Edison, "Genius is one per cent inspiration andninety-nine per cent perspiration.""The only emperor", writes Wallace Stevens, "is the emperor of icecream."

The commas here are bracketing commas, used as usual to set off weakinterruptions; their presence has nothing to do with the presence of a quotation,which is itself properly marked off by the quotation marks.

Here is another example:Mae West had one golden rule for handling men: "Tell the prettyones they're smart, and tell the smart ones they'repretty."

The colon here is not being used merely because a quotation follows.Instead,it is doing what colons always do: it is introducing an explanation of whatcomes before the colon.It is merely a coincidence that what follows the colonhappens to be a quotation.

This last example illustrates another point about quotations: thequotation inside the quote marks begins with a capital letter if it is a completesentence, but not otherwise.Look once more at two versions of the Edisonsentence:According to Thomas Edison, "Genius is one per cent inspiration andninety-nine per cent perspiration."Thomas Edison declared that genius was "one per cent inspiration andninety-nine per cent perspiration".

The first quotation is a complete sentence and therefore gets an initial capitalletter; the second is not a complete sentence and hence receives no capital.

There is one situation in which the use of single quotes instead ofdouble quotes can be rather a nuisance.This is when the quotation contains anapostrophe, especially near the end:Stalin announced defiantly `Hitler's invasion of Russia will be nomore successful than Napoleon's was.'

Since an apostrophe is usually indistinguishable from a closing quote mark, thereader may be momentarily misled into thinking that she has come to the end ofthe quotation when she has not.This is one reason why I personally prefer touse double quotes:Stalin announced defiantly "Hitler's invasion of Russia will be nomore successful than Napoleon's was."

With double quotes, the problem goes away.

Things can get a little complicated when you cite a quotation that hasanother quotation inside it.In this rare circumstance, the rule is to set offtheinternal quotation with the other type of quotation marks.So, if you're usingdouble quotes:The Shadow Employment Secretary declared "Describing theunemployment figures as `disappointing' is an insult to theBritish people."

And if you're using single quotes:The Shadow Employment Secretary declared `Describing theunemployment figures as "disappointing" is an insult to theBritish people.'

Naturally, you'll be asking what you should do if you have a quotation inside aquotation inside a quotation.My answer: you should rewrite the sentence.Otherwise, you will simply lose your reader in a labyrinth of quotation marks.

If you have a long quotation which you want to display indented in themiddle of the page, you do not need to place quotes around it, though youshould make sure that you identify it explicitly as a quotation in your main text.Here is an example cited from G. V. Carey's famous book on punctuation,Mind the Stop (Carey 1958):I should define punctuation as being governed two-thirds by rule andone-third by personal taste.I shall endeavour not to stress the former tothe exclusion of the latter, but I will not knuckle under to those whoapparently claim for themselves complete freedom to do what theyplease in the matter.

It would not be wrong to enclose this passage in quotes, but there is no need,since I have clearly identified it as a quotation, which is exactly what quotationmarks normally do.No punctuation should be used if it's not doing any work.

Occasionally you may find it necessary to interrupt a quotation you areciting in order to clarify something.To do this you enclose your remarks insquare brackets (never parentheses).Suppose I want to cite a famouspassage from the eighteenth-century French writer Alexis de Tocqueville:These two nations [America and Russia] seem set to sway the destiniesof half the globe.

The passage from which this sentence is taken had earlier made it clear whichtwo nations the author was talking about.My quotation, however, does notmake this clear, and so I have inserted the necessary information enclosed insquare brackets.

Some authors, when doing this, have a habit of inserting their owninitials within the square brackets, preceded by a dash.Thus, my examplemight have looked like this:These two nations [America and Russia — RLT] seem set to sway thedestinies of half the globe.

This is not wrong, but it is hardly ever necessary, since the square bracketsalready make it clear what's going on.

There is one special interruption whose use you should be familiar with.This happens when the passage you are quoting contains a mistake of somekind, and you want to make it clear to your reader that the mistake is containedin the original passage, and has not been introduced by you.To do this, youuse the Latin word sic, which means `thus', again enclosed in square bracketsand immediately following the mistake.The mistake can be of any kind: aspelling mistake, a grammatical error, the use of the wrong word, or even astatement which is obviously wrong or silly.Here are some examples, all ofwhich are meant to be direct quotations:We have not recieved [sic] your letter.The number of students are [sic] larger than usual.The All Blacks won the match with a fortuitous [sic] try in the final minute.The last dinosaurs died about 60,000 years ago [sic].

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