Re: apostrophes

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed May 24 2006 - 19:37:14 CDT

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    From: "Michael Everson" <>
    > This practice is extremely common. In English at least, any novel
    > where one character is speaking and telling a story where other
    > people are speaking will use nesting as a matter of course.

    Note that there's a strong history of quotations including quotations within litterature. Just open some common translation of Stephen King or Isaac Asimov novels and you'll find plenty of quotations for people speaking about what another said, and quoting his expressions (but sometimes these internal expressions are just emphasized in italic when they are reduced to one or a few words).

    Note that the primary level of speaches from persons who are in the main subject and time of the book just uses a long hyphen (with extra indications about who is speaking). This is not really a quotation, but a matter of written style where characters are speaking directly as if they were live. This style (that often use extra-long hyphens) is predominant and mostly used for theater (see books containing Molière's and Shakespeare's pieces, for example), to separate the speach from the other description or small notes from the dramatic author to help the "mise en scène" and place the characters on the scene or describing their movements or describing the other objects used, when actors will play the scene. So the notes (like "X says:") are like "meta-data" separated from the main thread consisting of actors speaches, not considered quotations because they are still not spoken but WILL BE said as is in the future by actors.

    So I tend to agree with you that there remains a main quotation style and an inner style. But the main style is sometimes replaced by the inner style, notably in French because the « normal style » is often replaced by the "inner" style when it just concerns one or a few words, and notably when the /italic/ style can't be used for ideomatic expressions (which are not quoted from someone else) as the /italic/ style is often kept reserved to denote foreign words and expressions like /ad infinitum/ or trademarks also used in the same text.

    This subject would not be complete if we did not speak about the quotation of multiple paragraphs:

    In French we have things like:
        « Start of quoted paragraphs. sdfksfjskdjfslkjdfklsjdjsdkss sjdf sjljf s dfskjd flskj dflsjl ksjld jfskjd fsjdlfjs lfj. sqlksjdfksjdkfjlskjd. lsjdfksjjflsjdfsjdfkjsfd. Someone said "this and that."
        » Next paragraph which is part of the same quotation as the previous paragraph. dngjdg ldkjgf djfg dfg kdj gldjg djkg dlgfjdjgdkjgf df. End of Paragraph and and of quotation. »
    Note that the first paragraph is NOT closed, but the second one starts with the same symbol as the closing mark for main quotations. In this position, it does not terminate the quotation started in the previous paragraph, but indicates that it CONTINUES the same quotation. The quotation terminates only at end of the second paragraph above.
    This "middle quote" helps a lot in books with small formats, when the quoted paragraphs would span most of the page, or several pages, to help the reader finding if the parapgraph is still within the quotation or if the text has returned to the author's speach. There's nothing in the CLDR about the encoding of such middle quote and whever it shouldbe placed at end of the previous paragraph or at the begining of the next one.
    Note also that in the following three occurences in the quoted paragraphs above:
        « Start
        » Next
        quotation. »
    the space between the quotation mark and the quoted text is a thin non-breaking space ("une espace fine" or "une fine" in French). But there's no space between the inner quotation marks and the quoted words in:
    French typography also uses another rule: all ending puntuations that would otherwise be placed after the closing quotation mark should be moved within the quotation. The same is true for abbreviated articles that are not quoted litterally, because the apostrophe (that marks the orthographic ellision of an article that precedes a word starting by a vowel) can't be immediately written before a quotation mark, but must be followed immediately by the word with which the article is articulated. So French does not write:
        l'« Amour »
    before the title of a creation whose name does not include any leading article (and which looks ugly to read) but:
        « l'Amour »
    (this is still coherent and accepted in French because leading articles at the start of artistic titles of songs or movies or books is ignored in the primary level their classification, or collation, notably in directories of books or of people names starting by "particules" like "de Musset, Alfred" who is sorted as "Musset, Alfred de" and not at the D letter).

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