Sunday, May 4, 2008

questioning quoting

i can't believe that a quick google search didn't list a whole slew of results on this question...and my apple dictionary didn't mention it either...so i'm turning to my trusty readership for help.

my mom recently asked for clarification on what i have long thought of as a basic, but commonly misunderstood, phrase: do you say "quote unquote" or "quote end quote"?

i swiftly replied "quote end quote" because, really, what is an "unquote"? i believed that "end quote" is both an indication of the action you are taking (ending the quote) and also a legitimate term to describe the closing quotation mark. of course, upon further searching, i couldn't really find any justification for this at all. i assumed, however, that "end quote" was proper, and over time the swift pronunciation (which sounds like "unquote") had morphed into the eggcorn "unquote".

now i find that my apple dictionary says "quote unquote" is the informal phrase to be used, and "quote end quote" (or "quote endquote") is nowhere to be found.

am i totally wrong on this?

a quick google search pulls up about 2 million "quote unquote" hits and 2.18 million "quote endquote"...so no help there ("quote end quote" gets 11 million, but that has a lot of spurious hits). new york times and the university of iowa use "quote end quote". it's a hard thing to find online, however, since most people just use the visual quote marks rather than saying the expression, which is usually reserved for verbal conversations with (obnoxious) air quote marks.

anyway. what do you think? any help would soothe my troubled mind.

bonus question: do you have strong feelings on the noun form of "quote" versus "quotation"? the forensics community has this weird mission to end the noun form of "quote" altogether and harass those who use it as being totally wrong...but the dictionary says it's okay...is there anything really fundamentally wrong about using quote as a noun, other than the lack of distinction now between the verb and noun form and the ultimate uselessness of the word "quotation"? although when put like that...maybe that is a bit sad...

4 comments:

Prometheus said...

Not sure about the unquote/end quote thing. What I've been told about the bonus question, though is this:
"Quote" is a valid noun, but it describes the quotation marks. If you are posting something that someone said, that is a "quotation". I've always held this to be true, and have told people to use "quotation" before, but now I don't care so much.

The mis-representation that drives me nuts, though, is "for all intensive purposes" instead of "for all intents and purposes".

frescasaurus said...

funny that, in describing your concern, you say "quotation" marks, not even "quote marks" like you attest is appropriate. :D interchangeable perhaps? or "quote" without the "marks"?

"for all intensive purposes" is pretty maddening...there are quite a few that are going that route ("should of" drives me batty)...how about "a tough road to hoe"? of course it's tough; you shouldn't be hoeing roads!

Prometheus said...

Yeah, I did think about that when I was typing it. What I've heard (and again, I'm not 100% sure but this is what I remember being taught) is that "Quote"="Quotation Marks", "Quote Marks" doesn't exist. So I wrote it that way because saying "Quote is a valid noun, but it describes quotes" would be silly.

And yeah, the two you mentioned kill me as well. Typo-wise, I still find the most annoying to be people who don't understand that "Loose" doesn't have the same meaning as "Lose". I see this one ALL THE TIME in forums, messageboards, facebook etc. and it really irks me.

Ian said...

"Unquote" is a mongrel term that is, as you say, almost definitely an eggcorn. (I'm still not clear on the semantic difference between eggcorn and malapropisms, but you love "eggcorn," so fine.)

The typographical term for the closing mark is "closing quotation mark," though--it's not an "end quote." At least, I've never heard of it described that way. Sometimes I do hear "right double quote," so I guess "end quote" isn't crazy.

However, all of this obscures a more important point. People shouldn't be pronouncing quotation marks except via inflection or emphasis. They're typography; you don't pronounce paragraph breaks in speech, do you? No. Although there are times in life when I've wanted to.