Welcome to my page of quotations about quotation marks!
The rules of punctuation seem arbitrary. How can they not, when an apostrophe looks like nothing in this world so much as a comma that can’t keep its feet on the ground? Or when, by simply placing next to that wafting comma its twin, one creates (of all things) a quotation mark? ~Richard Lederer and John Shore, Comma Sense: A Fun-damental Guide to Punctuation, 2005
Next to the semi-colon, quotation marks seem to be the chief butts of reformatory ardor. The fact that quotes within quotes are often confusing, and unhinge the minds of thousands of poor copy-readers every year, has fanned these flames. Also, there is frequent complaint that the marks themselves, as they stand, are unsightly, with demands for something better. ~H. L. Mencken, The American Language, Supplement II: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, 1948
I like commas. I detest semi-colons — I don’t think they belong in a story. And I gave up quotation marks long ago. I found I didn’t need them, they were fly-specks on the page. If you’re doing it right, the reader will know who’s talking. ~E. L. Doctorow (1931–2015), “EL Doctorow: ‘I don’t have a style, but the books do’: The author of Ragtime, The Book of Daniel and Homer and Langley talks to Sarah Crown,” The Guardian, 2010
An exclamation point looks like an index finger raised in warning… A colon, says Karl Kraus, opens its mouth wide: woe to the writer who does not fill it with something nourishing. Visually, the semicolon looks like a drooping moustache; I am even more aware of its gamey taste. With self-satisfied peasant cunning, German quotation marks [« »] lick their lips… Every text, even the most densely woven, cites them of its own accord — friendly spirits whose bodiless presence nourishes the body of language. ~Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969), “Punctuation Marks,” Notes to Literature, Volume One, 1958, translated from German by Shierry Weber Nicholsen, 1991 [a.k.a. Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund
In using phrases not our
Words spoken by some other
We quote their words you know.
Thus, when we quote from Solomon
“A father should chastise his son,”
These marks are put to show.
~Mrs. Lovegood, “The Quotation or Inverted Comma,” The Heart’s-Ease, or, Grammar in Verse with Easy Exercises in Prose for Very Young Children, by a Lady Teacher, 1854
Wouldn’t the sentence “I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and And and And and Chips in my Fish-and-Chips sign” have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips? ~Martin Gardner
Quotation Mark Quotations
Original post date: 2014 Apr 18
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