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  1. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    Can we use french dialogue punctuation in English writing?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by A.M.P., Jan 30, 2014.

    Just a thought: can we use french dialogue tags in English writing? @JayG or @mammamaia , either of you know anything about this?
     
  2. Mackers

    Mackers Contributing Member

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    I've seen it done it English language books before, it's no biggie. I prefer using a dash to quotation marks but that's just a personal preference.
     
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've moved this bit of discussion away from the Workshop. Workshop threads are to be critique and critique only. ;)
     
  4. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    I'm just curious.
    Didn't think about it before as I hate writing in French.

    Sorry, didn't mean to hijack it.
    It just struck me hard.
     
  5. thirdwind

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Are you talking about using guillemets? Because a dialogue tag is something like "he said." Using French dialogue tags would mean using "dit" or whatever. It doesn't make sense to do that. It also doesn't make sense to use guillemets.
     
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  6. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    I meant used the - to start a speech.
    I don't remember the last time I saw << >>
     
  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I see these all the time where I live. They're pretty standard for novels in Spanish too. ;)
     
  8. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    Even in English?
    Damn, never saw it before in English fiction.
    Musta been reading all the wrong books.
     
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  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    ...um, no. In Spanish novels. ;)
     
  10. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    Oh, in Spanish novels.
    I thought you meant it was more common in Spanish novels.
     
  11. outsider

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Irvine Welsh uses this to denote dialogue, as does Roddy Doyle, author of The Commitments.
     
  12. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the novel is in English, why would you use anything other than English punctuation? If I were to read such a book, I would either be irritated, confused, or think the writer was being a bit pretentious (possibly all three). So I think you'd have to have a pretty strong reason for doing it.
     
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  13. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @shadowwalker What she said... Would you start punctuating like the French too ?

    I guess if you like them better, or if your Word keeps constantly switching to French proofing like mine sometimes does when it glitches up, can't see why not. But by the time you offer the ms to agents or publishers, especially if they're American, I'm just wondering if that'd throw them off...
     
  14. outsider

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Conventions such as this really don't matter as long as the writing is strong enough. Furthermore, there doesn't need to be a reason. As long as it's clear and concise and most importantly, consistent throughout the whole MS.
    I refer you to my above examples; it didn't hinder them any.
    Again, on a technological point that was touched on in the Italics for Thoughts thread, many classic works used this style to denote speech as there simply wasn't the facility to use speech marks.
     
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  15. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that wouldn't be 'dialog tags'... just european style dialog punctuation...

    as someone explained above, a french dialog tag would be something like 'il dit'...

    and using that style punctuation wouldn't go over with publishers in the US or UK, but if you're going to be publishing in europe, shouldn't be a problem...

    you may point to a couple of 'renegade' american authors who used that method and still got published, but you'd be seriously narrowing your chances of having your work read by agents/publishers, if you depart from the norm...

    the question is, why would you want to?
     
  16. outsider

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this post at the start is what threw me then. I thought we were talking about whether an elongated hyphen at the start of dialogue to denote it rather than situating the text within inverted commas/quotation marks was the basis for the discussion.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. outsider

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is what they meant. I knew I wasn't going mad!
    Obviously calling it French 'dialogue tags' is what's caused the confusion.
     
  18. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Regardless of whether it's "-" or "<<" - the question remains: Why? If we want to communicate our story to readers, throwing out conventional grammar is the first stumbling block to that goal. That's why there needs to be a very, very good reason for doing so - not "I want to be different." or "I think it would be cool.". As to those books who do it - sometimes books get read "in spite of" and not "because of". I'd rather have my stuff read "because of"...
     
  19. outsider

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    A dialogue tag is he said or she exclaimed hence @mammamaia suggesting a French dialogue tag would be il dit or any other French variation of the aforementioned dialogue tag. The OP has got their terminology wrong which has evidently led to some confusion.

    In terms of the hyphen prefix to denote dialogue:
    I stand by my original assertion that it would be permissible and though I concede it could be viewed as pretentious, if consistent it is just another way of presenting it.
    I don't see how it would present the reader with any problems.

    I don't employ this technique myself, in case you were wondering.
    The OP asked the question and in my opinion, it is an acceptable form.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  20. VM80

    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can do what you like.

    Whenever I read French fiction translated into English, it tends to always be changed to UK/US punctuation accordingly though. Food for thought.
     
  21. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But do you know that they used the nonstandard punctuation when submitting their first works to agents or publishers, as unknown writers?
     
  22. outsider

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. In the example of Irvine Welsh I could post a link to an interview where he is asked about it and explains his reasons.
    James Joyce, though not a contemporary writer is another example I thought of today.
     
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  23. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not questioning your opinion - simply stating mine. Give me a good reason to use a non-standard form and I may change my mind, but I can't think of any.
     
  24. outsider

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    No other reason that I can see other than subjective preference, be they reasons of aesthetics or pretentious vanity.
    As I said, I use quotation marks myself but I think prose should be judged on literary merit.
    I certainly don't think it should count against you if you adopted that style. Plenty others have.
     
  25. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm reminded of my mother replying to that logic with "And if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do that, too?". Now, if there were a band of marauders chasing me, that would be a good reason to jump; just because I could - not really.

    The question remains: Why?
     

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