1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Another dialogue question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by doggiedude, Oct 6, 2016.

    I need to have a character say - C O 2

    Would I write it out as -- "Some sort of photosynthetic stuff to convert our CO two back to oxygen."

    or

    "Some sort of photosynthetic stuff to convert our CO2 back to oxygen."

    Unless there's another variation I haven't thought of.
     
  2. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    You could try just carbon dioxide, or do they have to say specifically 'CO2'?
    Out of the options you've put I'd say CO2, it just looks better somehow.
     
  3. Dr. Mambo
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    Dr. Mambo Active Member

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    I'd go with the latter, but I'm basing that purely on what's more visually pleasing to me. The first option just seems odd.
     
  4. Midge23
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    Midge23 Member

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    CO2 looks much better to me if your character can't say 'carbon dioxide'.
     
  5. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I'm with @I.A. By the Barn. If you just said "carbon dioxide" this wouldn't be an issue. Unless, of course, you want to use the abbreviation for some stylistic reason.
     
  6. Grub-r
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    Grub-r Member

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    As a chemist, I can tell you that CO₂ is the correct scientific spelling for carbon dioxide and would be preferably used in scientific papers and research. If the person in the dialogue is a scientist or speaking from a scientific background he would say this over carbon dioxide.
     
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  7. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Yea ... I agree that the CO2 looks more normal, but I was under the impression that with lines of dialogue the words should be written out.
    I ran into a similar situation a few months ago, but I can't recall the specifics.
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I used to worry about that too, and spell all numbers etc in full, but that never sat quite right with me either. Recently I've been following the convention of writing out numbers zero to nine, and using numbers for 10 and above. I figure a publisher will have their own house style, so there's no point in me worrying about it too much.

    For self-publishing where you can choose, I'd go with whatever reads more smoothly, because personally the last thing I want is to trip a reader up. In this case, I would definitely go for CO2.
     
  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes.

    CO2 is so well-known it's not going to trip anybody up. Something more esoteric, such as H2SO4, might.
     
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  10. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Indeed my first thought was hydrogen sulphide, but no of course its sulphuric acid ... i think to handle these things you need to translate it in the text , so one character uses the term then another mentions the common name... with CO2 its not an issue because its commonly talked about in the media due to the climate change debate (that said I met a girl earlier in the week who didnt know H2O was water... she was blonde though)
     
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  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    reminds me of an old TV sketch where a chemistry teacher is trying to extract the answer, H2O, from his pupils.

    "Now, then. How do we make water?"
     
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  12. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    that dihydrogenmonoxide is dangerous stuff - kills more people each year than acid ;)
     
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  13. Grub-r
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    Grub-r Member

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    Not entirely sure what it says about society that a 14 year old's project on gullibility was not only successful but survives to this day. :p
     
  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Recently, somebody wrote to an organic farm and asked for assurance that they don't use dihydrogen monoxide on their crops. The farm confirmed they don't, and in fact don't use ANY chemicals on their crops.

    Proof, if proof be needed, that you can't trust anybody into woo when they talk about "chemicals".
     
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  15. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've found it fairly common to be told to never, ever use numerals in dialog, under any circumstances (first red flag). That's because we don't speak in numerals. Which is an argument I find, quite honestly, bullshit. Letters and numerals are both symbols that represent sounds. Do we talk in letters? No, not really...we talk in the sounds that the letters represent. What makes a numeral any different?

    Maybe I'm off-base and publishers will outright reject my manuscript for saying U2 instead of U-two for the band name (which, you know, isn't the band name...it's U2...I think they'd prefer to see it represented correctly), and if that's the case, then I'll admit I'm wrong. But somehow I don't think publishers would be too uptight about it. At least, I'd sincerely hope not.

    Surely there's merit to the advice on a general scale. I do typically spell out numbers. Dates, as well. But if the numeral is a part of the thing, like U2 as I mentioned above, I leave the numeral in. If the editors want to change it later, by all means, knock yourselves out.

    *steps off soapbox*
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
  16. Grub-r
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    Grub-r Member

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    Don't get me started on the "chemicals are bad debate." it's made up of more ill-informed people or worse intentional scare mongers, than any other debate. Even worse than the GMO debate.

    Chemicals are chemicals. Oxygen is a chemical, water is a chemical compound. Everything around us is made of chemicals. You're made of chemicals. It's the quantity that can be an issue. Water in high enough doses is lethal. You can't breathe straight oxygen for very long. You can ingest small quantities of cyanide with no ill effects.

    What's worse are the synthetic or artificial haters. Synthetic means it was just made in a lab not in nature, not that it doesn't exist in nature. It's a pure form of what you find in nature. If you make H2O in a lab, it's only water, not water, minerals, fluoride, silica, chlorine, salt, bacteria, waste products, viruses, enzymes, protozoa, various larvae, ... but yeah you go ahead and drink from that stream, Slim Goodbody, It's natural.

    Test it for yourself, call up any exterminator and ask them if they have both natural and synthetic pesticides. Now ask them what they have to wear when they spray each of them. You'd be surprised.

    Sorry, as i mentioned before I'm a chemist, so this topic gets me going. I'll stop now.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I will throw my hat in with CO2. Were I to see that in the dialogue, I would say in my head: see oh two. If that's what you want the character to actually say, that's what I would write. Were you to write CO two, I would see "Colorado two".
     
  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed - go with the formula if that's the way the character is saying it.
     

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