1. Grizwald

    Grizwald New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Grammar quotations within quotations on ad infinitum

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Grizwald, Nov 27, 2016.

    Hello,
    I apologize in advance as I am sure that this has been covered somewhere in these forums but I have spent the last two hours looking and I cannot find the answer so..

    Is there a general rule that covers ever deepening layers of quotations? A quote within a quote as I understand it is indicated "He said that Bill said, 'I suck at grammar' ". Please correct me as I am a lot like Bill.

    Additionally how is it handled if Bill's quotation goes on for more than a paragraph?

    For deepening layers I am just confused.

    "He said that Bill said, 'I suck at grammar and my grandma says (?)grammar sucks(?) ' "

    Thank you,
    Griz
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,676
    My understanding is that you should switch back to the double quotation marks for the doubly-embedded quotations.

    But, honestly, I'd avoid doing this whenever possible. It gets pretty ugly.
     
  3. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2016
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    82
    Location:
    South Florida
    You are correct. You use the main quotation marks (") then the quote within a quote gets the (') semi-quote?
    He told me, "I talked to Fred, and he said, 'Thanks for talking to me.'" The space is not necessary.

    According to Purdue OWL:
    Write each person's spoken words, however brief, as a separate paragraph. Use commas to set off dialogue tags such as "she said" or "he explained." If one person's speech goes on for more than one paragraph, use quotation marks to open the dialogue at the beginning of each paragraph. However, do not use closing quotation marks until the end of the final paragraph where that character is speaking.
    (The Online Writing Lab [OWL] at Purdue University, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/577/04/)

    He told me, "I talked to Fred, and he said, 'Thanks for talking to me.

    'And, on our conversation went into another paragraph.'"

    All the guides I've looked at also admonish the writer that if you're getting this elaborate with quotations, it might be wise to simplify.
     
  4. Grizwald

    Grizwald New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you both for your input and the link to the OWL.

    Ugly. That just begins to describe the situation. Unfortunately I sat down and wrote quite a long story with an interview format. The interviewees tell most of the story and of course quote others within their descriptions. Having never had a single grammar lesson in my entire life (the school I went to subscribed to the theory children should discover language rules) I blithely assumed I would figure out how to punctuate this thing after I finished. That is turning out to be a much greater challenge than I had anticipated.
     
  5. Unripe Plum

    Unripe Plum Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2016
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    10
    You could introduce some of the longer quotes as extracts, which don't need quote marks. So they would go like
    'She told me the whole story:
    Para of whatever she droned on about.
    At that point I got bored and walked away.'

    You could also break up the dialogue with questions/interjections from the interviewer or other participants, allowing for a break in the nested quote loop.
     
  6. Grizwald

    Grizwald New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Unripe Plum,

    Thank you for your suggestions. I have broken up the dialogue with questions and interjections to a certain extent but I am limited by the length of the story (more than 200 pages).

    I am unfamiliar with the extract mechanism and have been unable to find it in any of my reference sources. When you refer to a "para of whatever she droned on about" are you referring to a paraphrase of her story? I don't want to waste your time by asking you to educate me, but if you could direct me to a reference it would be helpful.

    I have not read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice (Vampires don't do much for me) but I was wondering if this is the kind of thing that Ms.Rice dealt with? If so would it be worth the read? If someone, familiar with the book, could comment it would be appreciated.

    thank you for your assistance,
    Griz
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,503
    Likes Received:
    19,499
    Location:
    Scotland
    I just discovered something weird. The UK and the USA do this differently. I was raised in the USA, and assumed that the main quote started and ended with the double quote (") and that internal quotes were set off by the single quote ('). This is true.

    "I didn't know that," I said. "However, somebody just insisted 'it's different in Britain,' although I didn't believe them at first."

    HOWEVER....

    The British convention is exactly the opposite. At first I didn't believe it, but I started looking through all my British-produced books, and hey—guess what?

    'I didn't know that', I said. 'However, somebody just insisted "it's different in Britain", but I didn't believe them at first'.

    Notice the different placement of the end punctuation as well.

    Bizarre. I've lived in Scotland for 30 years, and I only just noticed this. I think I'll stick with the American version because it's what comes naturally to me. But both ways are correct, depending on where you're from (and what market you're writing for.)
     
    Brindy likes this.
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,676
    I'm not British, but I think in your example the period would go inside the quotation marks because it's part of the quoted material. That is, your quoted material is a full sentence, and as such ends with a period.

    But if you were quoting only a phrase or single word, you would put the period outside the quotations marks. That's my understanding of the "British Rules".
     
    jannert likes this.
  9. Unripe Plum

    Unripe Plum Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2016
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    10
    Try this:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_quotation
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,503
    Likes Received:
    19,499
    Location:
    Scotland
    You could be right. I haven't studied this extensively, because I stick with the American system. However, I have seen many instances where I assumed the punctuation placement outside the quote was a typo ...but maybe it wasn't. I'll look into it. To me, it just looks bad, to have a period (full stop, as they call it here) sitting out there all by its lonesome, outside the quote mark.

    ............

    Just grabbed two current paperback books that were lying on the piano bench. They are from my husband's collection. One of them is The Leper's Bell, by Norman Maclean, published by Birlinn Books in Edinburgh. It uses the American system of double quotes for dialogue!

    Then I picked up Roddy Doyle's The Dead Republic, published by Vintage Books of London. This one doesn't use quote marks at all, but that odd system that indictates dialogue using an em-dash. (A system I dislike intensely. Not only is it difficult to read, but means the ordinary use of the em-dash is more or less prohibited.)

    I then grabbed a Joe Abercrombie, and he uses the British single quote convention, and the punctuation IS inside the quote, as you pointed out. I couldn't find any example in Abercrombie's book of a quote within a quote, so I'll keep looking.

    Yep, I knew I'd seen the convention of putting punctuation outside the quotes in the British system. http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/british-versus-american-style.html

    It's all a bit of a muddle. I am thinking that the American system might just win out because it's more consistently applied.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
  11. Brindy

    Brindy Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    450
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    I'm with the double quote mark first. I think it may be an age thing as we were definitely taught to use double quotes at school (in the UK) in the 60's but I have noticed a lot of single quotes in novels and my partner uses single quotes in his writing, (mmm, scrap the age thing, he's older than me - maybe north/south thing?) I think pick one and be consistent, alternating for quote within quote.
     
    jannert likes this.
  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,503
    Likes Received:
    19,499
    Location:
    Scotland
    I don't know that it's an age thing, though. I just checked. Joe Abercrombie was born in the UK in 1974. And he consistently uses the single quotes. And yet much older writers do as well. To be honest, I have no idea what's what. I think it's the confusion in the UK that's lending support to the American system.

    I just checked some really old books here ...published around 1914, in London, by a British author ...and they use the American system.

    I just checked Terry Pratchett, Val McDermid, Iain Banks ...they all use the British system of single quotes.

    Did more checking:
    Ned Beauman, born 1985 - single quotes
    Zadie Smith, 41 years old - single quotes
    Muriel Spark - born 1918 - single quotes

    I'm wondering if I got it backwards, and that the single quote system is a NEWER convention than the American system. I honestly think there isn't any rhyme or reason to this. It doesn't apparently matter, as long as you're consistent within a given piece. But I'll keep looking.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
  13. S~A~W

    S~A~W Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2016
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Atlanta
    I graduated high school in '73.
     
  14. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,676
    That's consistent with what I said - the period goes outside the quotation marks in British English unless the period is part of the quotation. They don't give an example showing the period inside the quotation marks in the British system, but they do explain it as "unquoted periods and commas". So if the period was in the original material it goes inside the quotation marks, but if it wasn't it goes outside. This makes sense to me - putting the quotation mark inside makes it seem like the period was part of the original even when it wasn't.
     
    jannert likes this.
  15. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,503
    Likes Received:
    19,499
    Location:
    Scotland
    Oh, it's never that simple! :eek:

    Check this out: http://www.gsbe.co.uk/grammar-quotation-marks.html

    All seems to be as you pointed out, until we get to:

    ‘Thursday? That's when I go to my aerobics class’, said Joanne.

    Yet elsewhere in the same example, we have a bit of dialogue ending with bla bla?' Aaargh. I'm definitely sticking with the USA system! :)
     
    Brindy likes this.
  16. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,676
    Is gsbe a reliable source? I don't know anything about them, but... it seems like a lot of what they're saying doesn't fit with my understanding.

    The Oxford University style guide at https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/University%20of%20Oxford%20Style%20Guide%20%28updated%20Hilary%20term%202016%29.pdf gives examples that match my understanding and don't match that gbse site (I have no idea what gbse is!).
     
    jannert likes this.
  17. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,503
    Likes Received:
    19,499
    Location:
    Scotland
    Me neither....

    I've just been struck by how many different kinds of quote marks usages there are in my British books I have lying around the house. I haven't found every instance of usage—basically I haven't gone through them with a fine toothed comb. But I've found American double-quotes, British single quotes, and British em-dashes instead of quotes. And these are all in books written by British authors and published in the UK.

    I'm sticking with the American version!
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,676
    Cormac McCarthy's American, so... there's no escape from non-standard punctuation!
     
    jannert likes this.
  19. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,503
    Likes Received:
    19,499
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yes, but he deliberately broke the rules, didn't he? In fact, it often gets mentioned in discussions about his writing. I don't think the British authors I've been looking at have tried to deliberately break away from any convention. It's just they seem to be following a convention that I've only just become aware of. And a convention that seems to have changed around about the turn of the 20th century.

    I'm actually very curious as to how and why this happened. It's not the usual thing, for the British to break away from the American way of writing English! :)
     
  20. Grizwald

    Grizwald New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you everyone for your input.
    I had a browse through Ms. Rice's work and it seems she handles quotations within quotations as follows. Is this a generally accepted style?

    Narrator speaking indicated by n
    Interviewee speaking indicated by x
    2nd person quoted by interviewee indicated by p

    nnnnnnnnnnnnn
    nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
    nnnnnnn, "xxxxxxxx
    "xxxxx 'pppppppp
    ppppppppppppppppp
    pppppppppppppp'
    "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxxx"
    nnnnnnnnnnnnnn
    nnnnnnn.


    Sorry if that is a bit tough to follow but point that I am struggling to make is that in the case of doubly embedded quotations that extend for more than one paragraph, the single quote is only applied to the very beginning and the very end of the section. As indicated by the p in the above example.

    For single layer quotations the double quotes start each paragraph and end only the last paragraph of the section.

    Have I got this right?

    Thank you,
    Griz

    p.s. thanks unripe plum for the wikipedia link
     
  21. Grizwald

    Grizwald New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    ARGGGG the act of posting removed all the spacing indicating new paragraphs. Hopefully someone much smarter than I am (a low bar) will be able to figure out what I am trying to say. Is there an emoticon for banging head on computer keyboard?
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice