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  1. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Talking about letters--quotations? italics?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, May 22, 2011.

    Would you say:

    1-You puckered up your lips as if trying to pronounce a p sound.

    2-You puckered up your lips as if trying to pronounce a "p" sound.

    3- You puckered up your lips as if trying to pronounce a 'p' sound.

    Thank you
     
  2. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    consistency should be the first thing. I would probably use 'p' sound.
    But aas long as you keep it consistent.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that might only work if publishing in the uk, matthew...

    in the us, single quotes are used only for a quote within a quote... so, in the us, only your second example would be correct...
     
  4. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    I sort of knew 3) wasn't right, but I wondered about 1) and 2) because some sites mention that italicizing is right, as it is equivalent to using "words as words," where italics are in order.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can find all kinds of poor advice on the Internet. The misuse of italics is an area that you can find plenty of godawful advice about.
     
  6. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    So you are saying that in using words as words is OK to have italics, but in using letters as words you should use quotations?
     
  7. LotW
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    LotW New Member

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    This sort of thing really varies by publisher. All the options are correct, it's just a matter of style. I would tend to prefer single quotes to make the p visually distinct.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I am saying learn the correct uses of italics, which mostly boil down to:

    1. Placing emphasis on a word which would not ordinarily receive it in a sentence:
    2. A foreign word of phrase within a sentence:
    3. Titles of books, periodicals, and other creative works; also names of vessels:
    Most other uses are simply wrong.
     
  9. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Thanks for the summary, Cog. Any reference where I can find this, and possibly other?
     
  10. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Thanks, Cogito. I know about those usages, but another one is using words as words. My question is what to use for letters as words. I'm still not clear on that, other than maia's imput.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Try the Chicago Manual of Style. n <-- Usage #3
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no editor in the us would let you get away with that, as it's totally incorrect usage...

    i'm not even sure it would be ok in the uk, either...
     
  13. Velox
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    Velox Senior Member

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    Basically, in the UK, ' is the equivalent of the US ".

    So "p" would be correct for the US; 'p' would be correct for the UK. At least, that's what I've been told, but having never lived in the UK I really have no idea. =P But I know that for US, it's only double [unless you have a quotation within a quotation, but that's a whole 'nother matter entirely].

    Also @ Cogito, italics can also be used for characters' thoughts:

    I hope I don't have to work today, he thought grimly to himself.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry. That is frequently done, but it IS incorrect. Leave it in noirmal font:

    This has been discussed before ad nauseum. <-- Correct use of italics #2
     
  15. Velox
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    Velox Senior Member

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    Eh, yeah, I dunno. I've heard both, and both from English teachers/majors [you would think they would all be taught the same thing =P], so I've never really known if it actually is correct or not. But either way, I prefer them [and they're often used in published novels, too], and will still use them. =P
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    At least as far as UK usage is concerned, they're not all taught (or, rather, not all teaching) the same thing because different publishers have different house styles. What they should really be telling you in the UK is that there is no blanket rule. After all, why should there be?
     
  17. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Incorrect" is too strong a term. If a publisher wants to do that, there's no English Academy to rule it incorrect. It might not be traditional, but language changes and if it's "frequently done" then I'd suggest that language is changing on this one. When I was at school I was taught that abbreviations needed full stops, and to have written "UK" or "USA" instead of "U.K." or "U.S.A." would have been marked wrong. That's changed in my lifetime -- how often do you see "U.K." or "U.S.A." nowadays? The rule has changed in my lifetime. I suspect the "rule" on italics to show thought is changing in your lifetime. Not to italics always being used to show thoughts (there are problems with that if there's a lot of thought), but to it being permissible to use italics to show thoughts as long as it is not intrusive. In fact, I'd say that it already is -- as you note, it is "frequently done", and that already seems to be the rule in some genres (notably romance).
     
  18. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Does anybody know the answer to my original question? Through reading of your responses I have learned that 3 is incorrect (thank you!), but I'm still not sure about 1 or 2. I'm tempted to start a new thread, since the thread has diverted.

    Again, I haven't found any conclusive information. I don't particularly like italics, but since one of its usages is words as words, I wonder if letters as words (my example) would then follow logically.
    Many thanks.
     
  19. Velox
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    Velox Senior Member

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    Pretty sure #2 is the correct one.
     
  20. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I've been looking at myself in the mirror, watching my lips as I try to pronounce a "p" sound, and honestly it doesn't look at all like my lips are 'puckered.'

    Puckered, to me, is a bunching of the lips, outward, as if going for a kiss. A "p" sound to me seems more like spreading the lips thin and sucking them in.

    So, to answer your question, are you sure it wasn't answered?

    And I'd probably not make a new thread.

    Doubleplus-and, I don't recall ever seeing this sort of construction in fiction... or maybe I just didn't notice. Odd, eh.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you did get the answer... i'll repeat it simply for you:

    #2 is correct in the us
    #3 is correct in the uk

    and no, putting that letter in italics would not be correct in either the us or the uk...

    on another note, one doesn't 'pucker up the lips' when pronouncing a 'p' sound... the lips actually come together firmly, but unpuckered...
     
  22. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    I've been away from the boards for a week, so I'm only now reading this.

    I did get your answer, but not an explanation of how "letter used as word" differs from "word used as word" so I was hoping to get some other input. Because for "word used as word" 1) would be correct.

    As for the puckering it is because the person who was trying to pronounce the "p" was a toddler.
    Thanks.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a 'letter' can't be a 'word'... so such an explanation can't be provided...

    and as for a toddler puckering his lips to make a "p" sound, i've had 7 kids, so know what they do when trying to pronounce words/sounds and what they do is mimic the person who's showing them how to make the sound... so, since the person doing that would not pucker his/her lips to make it, neither would the child...
     
  24. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    And how would you call what they do (when the try to close their lips really well)?
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not a 'pucker' unless the lips are scrunched up into a kissing-like shape, where the lips are actually 'puckered' as in 'wrinkled'...

    what you're referring to is 'pursed lips'... where they're closed tightly in a smooth line, not pulled together into a rather circular shape...
     

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