Sep 15, 2008
Well the pears are all canned. The floor is swept. The kitchen is clean. The Mama Mia soundtrack is playing loudly. The windows are open. It is an amazing Fall day in New England and there is absolutely no reason for me not to face you all and write about all my new found knowledge of quotation marks. Other than the fact that once you know that I am informed about the proper use of quotation marks you may expect me to practice my new found knowledge and I do not know if I can do it :)
So, (big breath) here it goes:
#1. Use quotation marks to cite the names of any articles that you get from a magazine or a newspaper. Like if I were going to tell you that my favorite article ever was a talk in the October 1989 Ensign entitled "Our Strengths Can Become our Weaknesses" I would put quotation marks around it.
#2. You use them to quote something someone has said. Jennifer said, "I wish I could figure out how to get a new template for my extremely ugly blog :)." (Notice the smiley face is in the quotes) That is ever so important. Oh and NEVER use quotation marks for indirect quotes they are simply not special enough.
#3. Use quotation marks to set off words or phrases that are deemed special. Oh my, that opens a whole can of worms. You are telling me that I can deem what is special and put quotes around it whenever I want? Whooo Hooo!! I can do what I want. "That makes me happy."
#4. You use quotation marks to express dialogue between characters in a story. Now this can get complicated because if you use a quote within a quote you start with double quotes and indicate the quote within a quote with single quotes and rotate back and forth...nesting quotation marks? There are actually places in the Bible that there are quotes within quotes within quotes all the way up to 5 times.....crazy.
#5. Another very important use of quotation marks is to call attention to ironic or apologetic words. They are actually called ironic quotation marks also known as "scare, sneer, shock or distance quotation marks." And here is my favorite part of ironic quotation marks that I read about on Wikipedia where it said, "Ironic quotation marks are sometimes gestured in oral speech as air quotes." I confess I could easily get carried away with air quotes. They can add so much to a conversation :)
I am little sad because there is a warning that comes with ironic quotation marks did you know they should be, "used with care?" "Without the intonational cues of speech, they can obscure the writers intended meaning." Well all I can say about that is that everyone knows that is why after you use your ironic quotation marks you add a smiley face which is a perfect substitute for the fact that you cannot see and hear my intonational cues :)
In America it is custom to place our punctuation inside the quotation marks and in England it is custom to place your punctuation outside he quotation marks. Our way came about from typesetting and the British way is grammatically correct.
Did you know that Americans prefer using double quotation marks and the British prefer the single quotation marks?
I love that if you don't agree with our way there is at least an option out there for you and it just involves packing up and moving across the "little ol' ocean." Look how perfectly I used quotation marks there?
I confess there were many other reasons to use quotation marks and rules about quotation marks but they (yawn) were ever so boring, things like:
Signaling unusual usage Do you really need to signal the unusual usage can't you just use your words to say that things are going to be getting unusual?
Use-mention distinction This one was so intense I could never explain it in a million years
Titles of artistic works......"Overthinking Everything" was the name of that amazing blog he read everyday on his ferry ride into Manhattan.
Nicknames and false titles.......She said, "just call me Jennifer 'the air quotation queen' of New England."
Oh, do not forget quotation marks must always be in pairs. I must confess if I ever wrote a book the "quotation mark police" would be all over it. I would actually just put huge quotation marks at the beginning of the book and huge quotation marks at the end and call it good. So that you would know that in my book everyone was talking to each other.