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Not-quite Quotation Marks

For when it's not strictly a quotation, but close enough.
  (+18, -4)(+18, -4)
(+18, -4)
  [vote for,

I'm in the midst of my GCSEs at the moment, and in the course of various exams have come to recognise the need for a finer distinction in our punctuation arsenal.

Consider the following case: Mary, in the dialogue of whatever text you are analysing, says "I hate lemonade". In your essay, you feel the need to quote her, but do not want to resort to writing "Mary said 'I hate lemonade'". Nor do you want to go by the ugly route of Mary "[hates] lemonade".

Enter the Not-quite Quotation Marks. Represented by '#' below, they indicate to the reader that the enclosed text is not precisely a quotation from the text, but is close enough (and the reader must trust you on this) to the original to be equivalent in all but inflection.

Hence the above dilemma can be concisely solved, and you can write "Mary #hates lemonade#".


dbmag9, May 20 2008

"He goes and I’m like: The new Quotatives re-visited" http://www.ling.ed....2/buchstaller02.pdf
Isabelle Buchstaller, University of Edinburgh [hippo, May 21 2008]

The Chicago System http://wwwlib.murdo...tation/chicago.html
Harvard no longer publish a reference style guide, but the Chicago system is very similar in that you refer to to the author and date in the text and then the full reference at the foot/end of your document. [Jinbish, May 22 2008]

The IEEE system http://wwwlib.murdo.../citation/ieee.html
Mary's hatred of lemonade... blah [1]. [Jinbish, May 22 2008]


       Mary says that she hates lemonade.
nomocrow, May 20 2008

       Mary said something about hating lemonade.   

       Mary let us know that she did not like lemonade.   

       Mary has a stated dislike for lemonade. That little snot.
nomocrow, May 20 2008

       Lemonade is something Mary doens't care for.
phoenix, May 20 2008

       Mary said [comma] "I hate lemonade". (pedant moment)
xandram, May 20 2008

       //"Mary said 'I hate lemonade'"// doesn't make any sense
po, May 20 2008

       I think you could cover this by using reported speech, but it's also the dubitative mood, which is found in Bulgarian, Macedonian, Turkish and Ojibwe. It's a flaw in the English language. It has problems with propositional attitude contexts.
nineteenthly, May 20 2008

       Mary was all, like, "I hate lemonade."
jutta, May 20 2008

       // It's a flaw in the English language //   

       <pedant> It's not a flaw, it's an omission. </pedant>   

       Mary had a little lemonade, its's froth was white as snow .....?
8th of 7, May 20 2008

       // lemons are evil //   

       Nooooo .... lemons may be bad tempered and difficult, but they're not actyally evil. It's the apricots that are evil. We can hear them, whispering to the other fruit in the bowl, promulgating their dirty little conspiracies against us .... they are ganging up with the peaches and the banana ...... the Citrus Alliance are staying neutral, but we think they will side with the tomatos in the fridge, who don't like being kept in stasis ..... the apples are planning something too .... they are trying to annexe the vase next to the fruit bowl ....... there's a grape hiding under the sofa, it keeps moving around ..... no sleep for months, sitting up all night, in the corner, with the potato peeler .... only defence .....mustn't close eyes ..... they are waiting .....
8th of 7, May 20 2008

       Mary should just get over it, realize that life has indeed handed her lemons and the best thing to do is make cool, refreshing beverage from them. Or pie.
Noexit, May 20 2008

       [+] This would also help with cases where people are quoting someone but can't remember the exact words (which seems to happen more often than is desireable). For example:   

       I like to eat my dessert first, and then the main course. Like Robert Frost said, #take the road less travelled#! This line is not in the original poem, but most people get the reference. The #'s indicate the writer's awareness of the quasi-quote, so readers know it's not totally accurate.   

       Is this a lazy use of the # mark? Yes. However, whether quasi-quoting like this is desirable or not is beside the point, because people do it all the time anyways. Might as well support the habit and protect legitimate quotes by having half-ass quotation marks!
napoleonbag, May 20 2008

       [jutta], interesting. I read a paper once (can't remember where) which analysed that sort of usage of the word "like" as an adverb, maybe something like "etwa". English could do with a lot more of those.   

       Concerning flaws and omissions, when does language fail to express a real feature and when does it make an unwarranted assumption of a non-existent feature of reality?
nineteenthly, May 20 2008

       Some of the methods of writing this mentioned in the annos don't entirely communicate the incredulity associated with the statement. [+]
apocalyps956, May 20 2008

       You could try something like:   

       Blah blah blah, rhubarb blah, because Mary doesn't like lemonade.* Blahdih blah, blah - blah-blah etc.   

       Footnotes: * From "Mary and the Demon Lemon Gang", by Fortisque Lemonade-Shandy - Page 92 " 'I hate lemonade', said Mary."   

       This is how they do it later on in academia, so you might get plus points for adopting a more sophisticated style (alternately, your teachers may decide to fling your forcibly from the school)   

       There are various preferred style conventions for referencing source materials that you might be able to Google - but as long as you are clear, you should get away with it.   

       Also, rather than using asterisks and other layout markers, you could use small numerics (I didn't do that in this example because I don't think the bakery text supports them)
zen_tom, May 20 2008

       Good luck with them GCSE's [dbmag9]. I suspect you'll do ok.
wagster, May 20 2008

       Even if you don't, there's not much correlation between real skill and knowledge on one hand and good grades on the other, at least with GSCEs.
nineteenthly, May 20 2008

       This is a world-class, language-changing idea. Please follow up on this, and don’t let any of these playful hyperintelectuals deter you from your mission.   

       Like Eric Hoffer said, #The real antichrist is the dude who turns a delightful chablis of an original idea into mediocre tapwater.#   

       (Here is the original quote. "The real antichrist is he who turns the wine of an original idea into the water of mediocrity"   

       A good name for the new marks would be “somethin.like.that.marks”   

       If this actually goes anywhere, and you get the attention of the people in charge of such things, could you mention that another really good idea is that upside-down question mark that the beginning of Spanish questions?
r_kreher, May 21 2008

       [+] I constantly encounter this problem in a different context (describing patients' symptoms "in their own words"). I usually resort to "Mary 'hate[s] lemonade'" which is pure pedantry. I'd love to adopt your more graceful semi-quotation mark idea. Or [ninteenthly] write my notes in Bulgarian.
mouseposture, May 21 2008

       Isn't this sortof equivalent to subjective markup discussed elsewhere?   

       ISTANBUL - Mary, a resident of Galata, <subjective>who, like, hates lemonade</subjective>, has recently been elected council chairwoman for the Investigory Committee on the Delousing of Bosphorus Felines <subjective>regardless of whether or not anyone else on the committee likes lemonade</subjective>.
mylodon, May 21 2008

       The verb "go" can be used in a similar way to [jutta]'s "like" example above - and so Mary goes "Lemonade?! - no way!", and the other guy goes... (see link)
hippo, May 21 2008

       Mary: :-(ade #$%&*!
pashute, May 21 2008

       "Mary said: I hate lemonade." with the: "I hate lemonade" part in italics, is how I would do this.   

       Mary had a desert lamb,
she called it 'lemonade',
and everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb would find the shade. How nice!
xenzag, May 21 2008

       The problem that I see with this, dbmag9, is that it is imprecise. With your modification, you are claiming as fact something that was merely a statement. Mary may or may not hate lemonade, you have no way of knowing. All that you really know is that she said that she hates it. It's entirely possible that this may have been a lie or an innaccuracy (perhaps because she just doesn't like the lemonade that you make, for example). So, by stating it in the way that you propose, you are re-interpreting events and not, therefore, giving an accurate portrayal of the real facts.
DrBob, May 21 2008

       Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your language grow? With implementation of new quotation and pretty buns all in a row. +
bneal27, May 21 2008

       It could be done with an existing English word such as "like", by adopting a word from a language (i can't write Bulgarian, sorry, but Turkish is doable in principle, though not by me) which uses it to do this, or by taking over an actual grammatical construction from such a language and plonking it into English. By analogy, a graduate is someone who has graduated - past participle - a graduand is someone who is graduating - present participle - but a future graduate is an undergraduate. However, an undergraduate _could_ be a "graduature" - future participle. The same sort of thing could be done with this.   

       The problem with using punctuation is that it isn't audible. If we adopted a word or form, it could be used in speech. Yoda-speak, maybe? If a subordinate clause inverts word order, such as "Scholia seasoned with crabs, Blish is", maybe something similar could be done:   

       Captain Kirk said "up me Scotty beam"   


       "My dear Watson, elementary."   

       Or maybe:   

       "Ele-my dear Watson-mentary." "Be-me up Scotty-am."   

       OK, after poking about on Wikipedia for a bit and therefore now being able to pretend i know what i'm talking about, the Turkish dubitative mood is the stem plus "-ememish" (that last bit being s with a cedilla), which would entail:   

       "Mary says she hatememish lemonade"   

       Or, more fruitfully, in Bulgarian there seems to be a temporal but not a morphological distinction, so that would imply something like:   

       "Mary says she'll be hating lemonade"   

       which is a lot less clumsy.
nineteenthly, May 21 2008

       - "Holmes, I'm going to stick some citrus fruits up my arse!"
- "A lemon entry, my dear Watson"
hippo, May 21 2008

       You'd need some kind of "but THIS word I KNOW she said" symbol within the ##'s. Maybe quotation marks. For example, Mary said #I "hate" lemonade!#   

       where all you remember is that she used the word hate.
phundug, May 21 2008

       [-] This is just a crutch for poor writing skills.
Jscotty, May 21 2008

       Good idea. I usually don't know what I'm saying anyway.
Ozone, May 21 2008

       I actually think that the use of the # symbol will cause confusion as it usually means "number" does it not?
xenzag, May 21 2008

       Mary like says that like she does not like like lemonade.   

       el dueno
el dueno, May 22 2008

       Mary had a lemonade,
its color bold as brass
but everyone she sold it to
felt when it left their... mouth.

The drink was highly spiced, you see
and pepper was the thing
for when a drinker had to piss
it left them quite a sting

She sold the stuff in school one day
which was against the law
When bluecoats took the stuff away
they got some in their maw.

This drink was Mary's special-tea
it was infused with pot
and when the cops drank up, you see
the feeling that they got,
It let the men enjoy the stuff
but left them quite besot.

So when you pass the privy spot
and hear a deep voice shout
be thankful for the drink you've got
and stay to your planned route.
Voice, May 22 2008

       mary is a lying bitch
g00r, May 22 2008

       #lazy writing# - no, it's a real problem which could be, and in some other languages is, remedied in some way. Think of the potential in journalism or quoting the internet. It could replace "sources close to the prime minister..."   

       "Sources close to Mary indicate that she dislikes lemonade."
nineteenthly, May 22 2008

       I think this is a fantastic idea. Good job. And, <xenzag> I think we can all agree that this would have to be a new symbol and not just a # sign. I think that was just used as an example. Hahaha 8th
Flipmastacash, May 22 2008

       [dbmag9]: As [zentom] suggests, you can use footnotes or endnotes to reference facts that you do not wish to describe within the main text {1}. You can reference by 'author, date' - the Harvard system {2} - or, if you are an engineer like me, using a numbered system - such as the IEEE format {3}.   

       {1} zen_tom, comment on Halfbakery idea "Not-quite Quoatation Marks", May 20 2008
{2} Jinbish, "The Chicago System", link 1 on Halfbakery idea "Not-quite Quotation Marks", May 22 2008
{3} Jinbish, "The IEEE system", link 2 on Halfbakery idea "Not-quite Quotation Marks", May 22 2008
Jinbish, May 22 2008

       I thought the main point of //She's like, "I hate lemonade"// is that allows the incorporation of non-verbal elements of Mary's message. That's the difference between shat she said and what she was like. The extra non-verbal information makes the verbal part of the message less important, hence, we associate this 'like' construction with imprecision. However, it is not imprecise provided that we can see the para-quoter* pulling the face and making the gesture. Now, in writing, the non-verbal component is by definition unavailable, and so the whole construction falls apart.   




       Look, there it goes now.


*para-quoting; a word I made up, less strenuous than parascending.
pertinax, May 22 2008

       I am unconvinced of the need for this and mightily displeased by the use of the number sign being, as it is, one of the ugliest of the marks punctuative.
calum, May 22 2008

       I agree that the hash sign is not ideal, and i think it should be audible. I was wondering about the possibility of a click at the beginning and the end of the !quotation! . However, i do think it would be informative and useful.
nineteenthly, May 22 2008


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