1. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20

    Quoting a single word?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Jan 11, 2012.

    This was something that came up with a paper I had to write for class earlier this year. It was a nonfiction paper on the cruelty of factory farms, and in it I quotes several sources.

    At one point, I wrote something along the lines of: The rotting corpses of chickens have been found stuffed in cages in factory farms (parenthetical citation here).

    My instructor told me that because the source I was using used the word "rotting" that I should put that word in quotes. Thus making it:

    The "rotting" corpses of chickens have been found stuffed in cages in factory farms (parenthetical citation here).

    I did so with no argument, and I understand that you have to use quotes for direct thoughts, but to me it doesn't seem necessary. After all, if rotting chickens were found in factory farms, then the way to say that would be to say that rotting chickens were found in factory farms. Sure you could substitute something like "decaying" in there, but do you really have to quote a single word like that? I mean, clearly nobody would expect you to put a quote around words like "was" or "didn't" or "he". The original source did not create the word rotting, so I'm not stealing any sort of literary creativity from them -- so I just wanted to get some opinions and see where the line has to be drawn on putting quotes around something.
     
  2. TheIllustratedMan
    Offline

    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    6
    I don't know what the actual rule here would be.

    Personally, I think that the instructor is being overly cautious. Did the source use the words "the", "of", "chickens", "cages", "in", or "farms"? Without seeing the source, maybe that sentence should have read:
    "The" "rotting" corpses "of" "chickens" have been found stuffed in "cages" "in" factory "farms".
    I would have avoided the whole issue by quoting the exact description, had this been pointed out to me. Otherwise, I would have written it the way that you did.

    As an aside: putting that one word in quotes gives me the impression that someone said that they were rotting, but they may not actually have been.
     
  3. TheIllustratedMan
    Offline

    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    6
    Here's something that I just found:

    Their intro line to the long quote uses the word "event", which is also used in the text of the quote. They don't put quotes around it in their paraphrasing. Obviously, this is a guideline for one particular assignment, but it at least gives an example showing that you might not have been wrong.

    (Apologies for the double-post).
     
  4. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    If your source uses the word "rotting" in regard to the chickens, then it's correct to quote it in quotation marks, but if you do that, then the citation follows the quote immediately. If the original author says something to the effect of "rotting" without using the word itself, then there's no need to directly quote, and the citation follows the paraphrased sentence.
     
  5. TheIllustratedMan
    Offline

    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    6
    There are apparently multiple "standards" of quoting and citing. The more I think about it, the more I think that I would have avoided the one-word quote altogether, and either used a longer quote or reworded it (while obviously still citing the source).

    ETA: See how I put "standards" in quotes? That means that they call themselves standards, but I consider that questionable, since there is more than one. That's why I'd avoid the one-word quote. :D
     
  6. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    Not multiple standards, just multiple styles, each with carefully codified ways of referencing. If you directly quote someone, you must always include that word in a quotation, whether it's one word or one hundred. If you're paraphrasing, you don't. It's pretty simple really.
     
  7. TheIllustratedMan
    Offline

    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    6
    Well, again, how common must a word be to not quote it? If I'm using a reference that says, "Pigs can smell truffles at 100 yards," could I write, "Pigs have stronger noses than people; they are especially good at smelling truffles. They 'can smell truffles at 100 yards'"? I used the words "Pigs", "at", and "truffles" without quotes. What should I quote? Where should I cite?

    Note that I am genuinely curious; I haven't written a research paper in a long time, and don't plan on writing any in the near future.
     
  8. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    In that example, you would cite after your direct quote. It doesn't matter that he happens to use the same words you use elsewhere (pig, truffles, etc), but if you are quoting his exact words, then you cite it. You're not required to cite every single instance of the word; you only include quotes when you are invoking that source specifically. For instance, 'pigs are good at smelling truffles' is quite a general thesis statement, and isn't specialised knowledge or an unsubstantiated argument. 'Pigs can smell truffles at 100 yards' on the other hand (as a not-very-good example) is more specialised knowledge and would perhaps require verification by citing a relevant source.
     
  9. TheIllustratedMan
    Offline

    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    6
    So that would validate Rumwriter in not quoting the word "rotting". It's a fairly common word, and saying that there were rotting corpses in a building needs to be cited, but not necessarily quoted. Or am I still missing something?
     
  10. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    The fact that there are rotting chickens needs to be cited, but how it is done depends on how he uses the source. If the writer of the source uses the word 'rotting', it's probably a good idea to quote directly since you're not really paraphrasing, you're using the exact word he used. Besides which, since it seems that 'rotting' in this case is quite specific and argumentative rather than general, quoting it directly makes it more obvious that this is exactly what the source states and that there is no room for interpretation. Simply saying 'rotting' without quoting it directly could indicate that the writer is re-interpreting the source material and may be phrasing it in a more scandalous or evocative way.
     
  11. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    You are missing something. If the text described it as rotting, then that's the only reason you know they're rotting. If the text hadn't said so, you'd be going on hearsay about the rotting.

    I personally wouldn't waste my time quoting a single word. If I was to quote something, I'd just work in a larger part of the text.
     
  12. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    You can cite without directly quoting, which I think is what he was talking about. The issue isn't whether to include the source at all, it's just finding the appropriate way to reference it.
     
  13. CH878
    Offline

    CH878 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2011
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    England
    Personally, I think it just looks more professional to quote words that are used in the source because it shows you've researched your subject and read through material.
     
  14. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20
    I like the truffle example.

    If I'm writing a paper on pigs, and I find an article that says "Pigs can smell truffles at 100 yards." does that mean that if I write something, I have to do this:

    "Pigs" have the capability to "smell truffles" up to 300 feet away" (put citation here).

    I mean, how else is there to say pigs, besides saying pigs? how else is there to say smell truffles, without saying smell truffles? Sure you could probably come up with SOMETHING, but I don't find that really infringes on any creativity. As if the author of the article was the first person to ever use the words "pigs" and "smells truffles".

    I mean, consider this: Suppose somebody right now told me to write one sentence about George Washington off the top of my head. I might write:

    "George Washington was the first president of the United States of America." Now, I didn't look that sentence up at all, but I would be shocked if you couldn't find that exact sentence, or at least parts of it (first president; of the United States) published somewhere. But that is such a common fact with such a common phrasing, that if I were to write that sentence, nobody in their right mind would say that I am plagiarizing. Washington simply was the first president!

    Similarly, rotting is the word that describes rotting! It is what it is! The person writing the article didn't creatively come up with that word -- they simply accurately described it, and I give them credit for having discovered that fact with the citation. I feel like if I were writing an article on the sky, and I came across an article that said "...(factual knowledge)....gives us a blue sky." that I wouldn't put: We have a "blue sky" because.....(citation).

    Would we really need quotes around "blue sky"?
     
  15. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    Rumwriter, in all honesty, you are probably fine doing it the way you were doing. Quoting just one word sound ridiculous to me, either quote a whole sentence or paraphrase without quotes and put the source at the end either way. You aren't going to get into legal trouble if you do it like that. And the whole point of these "standards" is so that your research paper looks good in the eyes of the academic community... but adhering to a standard that makes you quote just one word like that is horrible. I'm pretty sure the only time one word quotes are necessary is when the word in question is very significant. Words like "rotting" or "truffles" or "pigs" aren't significant. It might be worth quoting one word if the source you are paraphrasing gave the rotting chickens a special name like... "Rot-ickens" (hopefully something better than that).

    Now, if this is for a grade, I can see where professors might get picky with stuff like that because they are trying to teach you these formats. If the teacher is the type to take off points for stupid stuff like this, I might one word quote if they say that's okay. Your other option is to go to them after class and talk with them more about it... as long as you know they aren't going to take points off then it doesn't really matter what they want you to do (sad as it is to say... the grade is what matters here).
     
  16. joanna
    Offline

    joanna Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    429
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Boston
    No, you do not have to do that. You can either quote it directly, or you can paraphrase without using quotation marks. Either way, you cite the reference.

    When something is common knowledge or common sense or a long established well known fact, you do not have to cite a source at all.
     

Share This Page