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Quotation marks

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Quotation marks, or (especially in British English) inverted commas, also called, less formally, speech marks or quotes (... or ... or «...» or ..., etc.) are punctuation marks organized in pairs, set at the beginning and the end of a quotation and, likewise, at the beginning and the end of any passage with a special sense, a special use or a special form. For instance:

Martin Luther King said: I have a dream.
Space exploration was part of President Kennedy’s New Frontier program.
In Arabic, As salamu alaykum is a common greeting that means Peace be upon you.

Layout

Quotation length

The passage between quotation marks may vary considerably in size, in most languages this generally ranges from a single word to several lines.

Opening and closing marks

Normal shapes

The shapes of quotation marks generally differ according to the position:

  • At the beginning, there is an “opening quotation mark”: ..., ..., «...
  • At the end, there is a “closing quotation mark”: ..., ..., ...».

Smart quotes and dumb quotes

However, in nonprofessional typography, traditionally-differentiated shapes such as ... and ... (called “curved” or “smart quotes”) are often replaced by uniform and straight shapes such as "..." and '...' (called “straight” or “dumb quotes”). This can be due to the keys on typewriters and computers or the configuration of publishing software. Some software can convert automatically dumb quotes into smart quotes as the writer types.

Embedding different levels of quotation marks

Sometimes, inner quotation marks may be inserted within outer quotation marks. In this case, the outer marks have the same form as other quotation marks of the text, whereas the inner marks have preferently a different form. For instance:

Mark said hello this morning.
Mark said hello this morning.
Marc diguèt «bonjorn» aqueste matin.
«Marc diguèt bonjorn aqueste matin.»

Shapes in different languages

Quotation marks may have differing shapes and layouts depending on the language:

etc.

The following table[1] summerizes various uses in various languages.

Language Standard Alternative Spacing Names, references
primary secondary primary secondary
Afrikaans “…” ‘…’ „…” ‚…’ [2] Aanhalingstekens
Albanian „…“ ‘…’ Thonjëza
Basque «…» ‹…› Komatxoak
Belarusian «…» „…“ Двукоссі ("double commas"), лапкі ("little paws")
Bulgarian [3] „…“ «…» [4] кавички
Catalan [3] «…» “…” [5] “…” ‘…’ 0 pt Cometes franceses (« »), cometes angleses (“ ”), cometes simples (‘ ’). ‹ and › are never used.
Chinese, Simplified “…” ‘…’



[6] Fullwidth form “…” Simplified Chinese 双引号 (Double quotation mark, pinyin: shuāng yǐn hào), ‘…’ Simplified Chinese 单引号 (Single quotation mark, pinyin: dān yǐn hào) GB/T 15834:1995
Chinese, Traditional 「…」 『…』 [7] “…” ‘…’ 引號 (yǐn hào) 國語文教育叢書第三
Croatian „…” ‚…’ »…« Navodnici „…” and »…« (latter not used in handwriting, only press & print); polunavodnici ‚…’
Czech „…“ ‚…‘ »…« ›…‹ Uvozovka (singular), uvozovky (plural) (cf. uvozovat = "to introduce")
Danish »…« ›…‹ „…“
or “…”
‚…‘ citationstegn ("citation marks"), anførselstegn, gåseøjne ("goose eyes")
Dutch “…” ‘…’ „…” ‚…’ Aanhalingstekens ("citation marks")
English, UK ‘…’ or “…” “…” or ‘…’ [8] 1–2 pt Quotation mark, double quote, quote, dirk, double mark, literal mark, double-glitch, inverted commas, speech mark; (INTERCAL: rabbit-ears; ITU-T: dieresis, quotation mark)
English, US “…” ‘…’ [8] 1–2 pt See above
Esperanto “…” ‘…’ [9] Citiloj
Estonian „…“ «…» Jutumärgid ("story marks")
Finnish ”…” ’…’ »…» ’…’ [10] Lainausmerkki ("citation mark", singular), lainausmerkit (plural)
French [3] « … » « … » or “…”[11] [4] “ … ” ‘ … ’ ¼-em / non-break Guillemets
French, Swiss [12] «…» ‹…› See above
Georgian „…“ “…” 0 pt ბრჭყალები (brč’q’alebi "claws")
German „…“ ‚…‘ »…« ›…‹ Anführungszeichen, Gänsefüßchen ("little goose feet"), Hochkommas/Hochkommata ("high commas")
German, Swiss [12] «…» ‹…› See above
Greek[3][5] «…» “…” [13][14] 1 pt εισαγωγικά ("introductory marks")
Hebrew “…” [2] “…„ merkha'ot — מֵרְכָאוֹת (plural of merkha — מֵרְכָא); a similar punctuation mark unique to Hebrew is called gershayimגרשיים
Hungarian [3] „…” »…« macskaköröm ("cat claws"), idézőjel ("quotation mark" = „ ”), lúdláb ("goose feet"), hegyével befelé forduló jelpár (» «)
Icelandic „…“ ‚…‘ Gæsalappir ("goose feet")
Indonesian “…” ‘…’ Tanda kutip, tanda petik
Interlingua Virgulettas
Irish “…” ‘…’ 1–2 pt Liamóg (from "William", see Guillemets)
Italian [3] «…» “…” ‘…’ 1–2 pt Virgolette
Italian, Swiss [12] «…» ‹…› See above
Japanese 「…」 『…』 [7] Template:Nihongo, Template:Nihongo
Korean “…” ‘…’ 『…』 「…」 따옴표(“ttaompyo”)
Latvian «…» „…“ Pēdiņas
Lithuanian „…“ ‚…‘ «…» ‹…› Kabutės
Macedonian[15] „…“ ’…‘ Наводници (primary level, double quote), полунаводници (secondary level, single quote)
Norwegian «…» ’…’ „…” ’…’ [16] Anførselstegn, gåseauge/gåseøyne ("goose eyes"), hermeteikn/hermetegn, sittatteikn/sitattegn, dobbeltfnutt
Polish [17] „…” «…» [4] «…» [18] Cudzysłów
Portuguese, Brazil [3] “…” ‘…’ Aspas Duplas and Aspas Simples respectively.
Portuguese, Portugal [3] «…» “…” “…” ‘…’ Aspas or Vírgulas dobradas[19]
Romanian [3] „…” «…» [20] «…» „…” 0 pt Ghilimele (plural), ghilimea (singular, rarely used)
Russian [3] «…» „…“ 0 pt Кавычки (kavychki, general term); ёлочки (yolochki, "little fir trees": angle quotes); лапки (lapki, "little paws": curly quotes)
Serbian „…“ ’…’ „…” or »…« Наводници, знаци навода (cyr.) / Navodnici, znaci navoda (lat.)
Slovak „…“ ‚…‘ »…« ›…‹ úvodzovka (singular), úvodzovky (plural)
(cf. uvádzať = "to introduce")
Slovene „…“ ‚…‘ »…« ›…‹
Sorbian „…“ ‚…‘
Spanish [3] «…» “…” “…” ‘…’ [5] 0 pt Comillas latinas or comillas angulares (« »), comillas inglesas dobles (“ ”), comillas inglesas simples (‘ ’). ‹ and › are never used in Spanish.
Swedish ”…” ’…’ »…» or »…« ’…’ [21] citationstecken, anföringstecken, citattecken (modernised term), dubbelfnutt (colloquial for ASCII double quote)
Thai “…” ‘…’ อัญประกาศ (anprakat)
Turkish «…» ‹…› “…” ‘…’ 0–1 pt Tırnak İşareti ("fingernail mark")
Ukrainian «…» „…“ 0 pt Лапки [plural only] (lapky, "little paws")
Vietnamese “…” Dấu ngoặc kép
Welsh ‘…’ or “…” “…” or ‘…’ 1–2 pt Dyfynodau

Technical use

Bibliographic referencing

In several bibliographic referencing norms, quotation marks indicate the title of an article or a text inserted in a larger document whose title is in italics (such as a book, a journal, a review or a newspaper).

In 1898, Émile Zola wrote his famous article J’accuse...! in the newspaper L’Aurore.

Linguistics

In linguistics, quotation marks indicate a sense, whereas italics indicate a shape:

In Swahili, farasi means horse.

Notes

  1. Extracted from Wikipedia.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Traditional
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Quotation dash preferred for dialog.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Rare
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 A closing quotation mark is added to the beginning of each new paragraph.
  6. This is only used when text is written vertically.
  7. 7.0 7.1 These forms are rotated for use in horizontal text; they were originally written ﹁…﹂ and ﹃…﹄ in vertical text
  8. 8.0 8.1 An opening quotation mark is added to the beginning of each new paragraph.
  9. In practice usage may vary, chiefly depending on the native language of the author and publisher.
  10. This usage is regulated by the standard SFS 4175:2006, “Typing of numbers, marks and signs”. Released by the National standards organization of Finland.
  11. First version according to the French Imprimerie nationale. English quotes are more common, though.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 In Switzerland the same style is used for all languages.
  13. Δημήτρης Ν. Μαρωνίτης, «Το Εγκόλπιο της Ορθής Γραφής» (1998)
  14. Source: Διοργανικό εγχειρίδιο σύνταξης κειμένων
  15. pp. 141-143, Правопис на македонскиот литературен јазик, Б. Видеоски etal., Просветно Дело-Скопје (2007)
  16. Handwriting.
  17. Preferred for headings and other texts in larger font sizes
  18. May substitute for either the opening or closing mark
  19. Source: Bergström, Magnus, & Neves Reis 2004. Prontuário Ortográfico e Guia da Língua Portuguesa. Editorial Notícias, Lisboa
  20. Academia Română, Institutul de Lingvistică „Iorgu Iordan”, Îndreptar ortografic, ortoepic şi de punctuaţie, ediţia a V-a, Univers Enciclopedic, Bucureşti, 1995
  21. [1] Språknämnden, questions and answers (in Swedish)