1. ThenColmSaid
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    ThenColmSaid New Member

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    Repeated dialogue and quoting sources

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ThenColmSaid, Oct 13, 2016.

    I was wondering what the correct method was for a character repeating dialogue and a character reading aloud from something—e.g, a book.

    For example, when a character repeats what another character has just said, is it put in the other speech marks or is it italicized?

    Here's an example of what I mean:

    Character 1: ‘Not in the slightest. Personally, I find typical good looks to be rather dull.'

    Character 2: ‘Oh, come off it yourself, Charlie. “Not in the slightest”, he says.'

    or is it: ‘Oh, come off it yourself, Charlie. Not in the slightest, he says.'

    I always have trouble with this; especially when it comes to knowing where the comma should be put, if before the double speech marks or after, and what to do if the repeated dialogue or passage from something ends the sentence.
     
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  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I believe that your first example:

    Character 2: ‘Oh, come off it yourself, Charlie. “Not in the slightest”, he says.'

    is correct. Quotes within quotes use the "other" quote marks--whichever ones you weren't using in the main quote. I don't know what you do with quotes within quotes within quotes--maybe switch back? But that's not going to happen very often.
     
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  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen that as well. In this case, I question whether any quotation marks are needed. This phrase:

    Not in the slightest, he says.

    seems to me to be sufficient to indicate that Character 2 is quoting Charlie. And even more sufficient considering he's quoting back what the reader will see that Charlie said in the immediately preceding sentence. I'd probably leave the quotes out.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is true. I was just addressing the question of what to do when something like quotes is required.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm. Maybe it's just me, but I would say you have this backwards? Aren't the main quotes usually in double quotes? Unless you're using single quotes as default throughout the piece.***

    Character one: "Not in the slightest. Personally, I find typical good looks to be rather dull."
    Character two: "Oh, come off it yourself, Charlie. 'Not in the slightest,' he says."

    My own preference would probably be to use the double quotes as the default, and set up the second as you've done, using the italics. Of course I wouldn't do this with a lengthy quote, but in a short one like this, coming immediately after the first statement, not only works well for comprehension, but also emphasises the repetition's tone.

    And maybe a question mark at the end, because it seems to be a rhetorical statement.

    "Not in the slightest. Personally, I find typical good looks to be rather dull."

    "Oh, come off it yourself, Charlie. Not in the slightest, he says?"

    ***Just was told that the single quotation mark default is a British convention, and it appears that's correct, at least from the samples of British novels I've got lying around. I can't believe I've lived here for 30 plus years and not noticed this. :bigoops:
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert a lot of stuff I read from the UK has the main quotes as single quotes. But you're over there so you know better than I. I always assumed it was just a UK/US difference.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep, I too believe that the UK default is single quotes while the US is double quotes. But I'm not at all sure.
     
  8. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Another option @ThenColmSaid, is to look up the difference between direct discourse and indirect discourse and make use of your narrator to switch between the two and potentially eliminate having to use quotes within quotes.

    But what I mentioned here would be most useful if the character being quoted was not present as in: "Then he told me he didn't like typical good books in the slightest." (This is a bad example but you get the idea.)

    But if you're just talking about character #1 repeating to character #2 what character #2 just said, then you don't need any quotes within quotes. (As per @Steerpike)

    Character 1: ‘Not in the slightest. Personally, I find typical good looks to be rather dull.'

    Character 2: 'Not in the slightest? Oh, come off it yourself, Charlie."


    I'm just mentioning other options here, not saying you should absolutely use one method or another. The reason I mentioned direct and indirect discourse is because learning about it has helped me in situations like these where I can use indirect discourse to avoid quotes within quotes.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Steerpike and @ChickenFreak - Well, dog my woofs, you're never too old to learn something new. I just swanned around the house picking up British novels that are lying around, and you are quite right. The British use single quotes rather than double ones for dialogue. I can't believe I never noticed that before! And I've lived here for 30 years plus. I wasn't able to find an example of a quote within a quote, but I imagine the OP's post must be correct, if he's writing from a UK perspective.

    The single quote doesn't look odd to me, but having the double-quote INSIDE the single quote would certainly throw me, though. I grew up in the USA, got a degree in English from a US university and didn't move here till I was 37 years old. I guess old habits die hard.
     
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  10. ThenColmSaid
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    ThenColmSaid New Member

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    Thank you all so much for your replies!
    You're all brilliant.

    I also completely understand your uncomfortableness with single and double quotes, but in a backwards way. I get so thrown and distracted by double quotes in American novels, too!
     
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  11. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I was taught that it's double quote, single quote, double quote, etc. The cycle just continues. I imagine it's the same way for the UK, but reversed.

    It's hard for me to read British novels because I often overlook the single quote and then go, "Wait, is this dialogue?":rolleyes:.
     
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