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Beware_of_Italics
05-24-2009, 04:31 AM
Say a character in your story is speaking, and they literally say the phrase quote unquote.... HOW would that be written?

The exact sentence is "I guess we best congratulate her on her very first quote unquote ghost sighting."

So would that be......

quote, unquote
quote-unquote
quote unquote

And should italics be used?

:Shrug:

Thanks for any help. I've yet to have found a staight answer about this, and my sister the English major isn't answering her phone.

Ooh.. one more thing. Grade Seven is capitalized, right?

Dawnstorm
05-24-2009, 04:43 AM
In isolation, I'd say it's:
quote, unquote.
Now I view "quote, unquote" as a parenthetical expression, which means that it should be set off by punctuation. Commas are out, because the phrase itself contains a comma, and it would look like this:
I guess we best congratulate her on her very first, quote, unquote, ghost sighting.
This is possible, but I don't like it. Brackets don't work, for me (it's too important for brackets), so that leaves me with the em-dash:
I guess we best congratulate her on her very first--quote, unquote--ghost sighting.
It's not perfect, to my taste, but I can't find a better way at the moment. (I do prefer it to the comma version.)

Beware_of_Italics
05-24-2009, 04:52 AM
I think that at first I had: "I guess we best congratulate her on her very first quote-unquote ghost sighting."

Then it was: "I guess we best congratulate her on her very first quote, unquote ghost sighting."

Too many commas drive me crazy as well. Personally, my first choice above looks cleaner I guess. I just don't know that it's right. :tongue I also don't know if that phrase should be italicized at all. (I think italics cleans it up a bit).

Sage
05-24-2009, 05:09 AM
I like the em-dash for it

Matera the Mad
05-24-2009, 05:21 AM
I would quote-unquote hyphenate it, that's how I see myself saying it.

Dawnstorm
05-24-2009, 07:08 AM
Personally, my first choice above looks cleaner I guess. I just don't know that it's right. :tongue I also don't know if that phrase should be italicized at all. (I think italics cleans it up a bit).

Well, italics accomplish the same thing that punctuation does: setting it off from the text. The reservations I have against italics are pretty much the same I have against my own favourite, the em-dash; and that's that it confers too much emphasis on the phrase.

Matera does have a point about "saying it that way". If I say that, I'd put the main stress on the "un", which should by rights be an unstressed syllable.

Btw, if I did use the hyphenated version, I'd probably just use commas. ;)

Mumut
05-24-2009, 03:34 PM
I'd prefer them to say "quote, close quotations" or "quote, end quote". You can't unquote. Lots of people on their way to the gallows or torture chambers wishing they could unquote. But once something is said it cannot be removed.

Bufty
05-24-2009, 05:27 PM
Another possibility.

"I guess we best congratulate her on her very first..." Mary smirked, waggling her index fingers as quote marks. "...ghost sighting."

SylviaPeters
05-24-2009, 06:13 PM
For me, the quote, unquote doesn't work together. I didn't really follow what you meant at first. Using quote, unquote with nothing inside isn't proper grammatical order. It wasn't till I saw Bufty's post above that I realised exactly what you were saying.

So, bearing in mind, you've probably come across your 'stupidest' reader, ;) I would use...

"I guess we best congratulate her on her very first quote, ghost sighting, unquote."

Or use the 'end quote', as another previous poster pointed out. Although, I do like the suggestion above, showing the action instead. It seems less awkward. :)

Ludka
05-27-2009, 02:56 AM
I've heard the phrase used--all too often, I might add--and if you have a character saying it, I would use the em-dash.

As you can probably surmise, I'm a fan of the em-dash.

Chase
05-27-2009, 08:08 PM
I'd prefer them to say "quote, close quotations" or "quote, end quote". You can't unquote.

For me, the quote, unquote doesn't work together. I didn't really follow what you meant at first. Using quote, unquote with nothing inside isn't proper grammatical order.

Lots of luck on applying logic to figures of speech. When you're through with "quote-enquote," tilt your lances at old windmills like "all of a sudden" and "be that as it may," ha ha ha.

Like "she split her sides laughing" and "he blew his top," we can't take them literally. Changing them to "she laughed with such violence that she pulled a muscle in her side and felt as if she had been slice by a sword" and "His temper became such that he erupted into shouting foul oaths and blasphemies" takes away from the purpose of a figure of speech.

By the by (incidentally for those avoiding euphemisms), Webster still lists "enquote" as a legitimate word.

Good thread for discussion.

Ludka
05-27-2009, 08:49 PM
Lots of luck on applying logic to figures of speech. When you're through with "quote-enquote," tilt your lances at old windmills like "all of a sudden" and "be that as it may," ha ha ha.

These are just dumb phrases that don't mean anything. While these, on the other hand:

Like "she split her sides laughing" and "he blew his top," we can't take them literally. Changing them to "she laughed with such violence that she pulled a muscle in her side and felt as if she had been slice by a sword" and "His temper became such that he erupted into shouting foul oaths and blasphemies" takes away from the purpose of a figure of speech.


These are called idioms, and are perfectly acceptable examples of figures of speech.

Others include:

Raining cats and dogs
Making a face
Eating crow