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We need txt-marks. - Seven Degrees off Bubble
June 18th, 2011
11:46 pm


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We need txt-marks.
So, we have quote marks for reporting exactly what someone speaks. But, to the best of my knowledge, we have no marks to show exactly what someone typed. Even been overloading "quote" marks for citing passages of print text for a while now, but there is a definite difference between print and this... THING with typing and texting and blogging that we do now. Books don't have dialogues with each other (whatever Kristeva and her ilk might say), and... it's just DIFFERENT!

For instance, I was just reading Wil Wheaton's blog over at http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/ and he wrote:

I picked up my keys and my phone. An LED flashed on the cover, telling me I had a text message. It was from Anne: Do you want to meet me for early dinner on your way home?

I thumbed to the compose screen, and told her that I had just finished, and I could meet her in about 25 minutes.

"Yay!" She replied.

Now the first one I can get behind. The use of the colon to suggest a quote of dubious accuracy or one with which the writer may have taken some liberties is old hat by now, and I really like this employment of it. But the Second one? The reply? NO! This is a narrative, dammit! When I see double quotes, I expect that somehow, somewhere vocal chords (or speakers or synth-throats or rushing waters or SOMETHING) vibrated through some air (or water or aether or the vacuum of space), causing sympathetic vibrations in a tympanic membrane (you get the idea by now) and transferred the information the OLD FASHIONED WAY! How can there be double quotes in a narrative without tympanic membranes being involved? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS!

So where's our txt-marks? I mean, there are people lobbying for an interrobang (interrobang?!) while this travesty is flying under the radar? Who's even in CHARGE here?

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:June 19th, 2011 04:35 am (UTC)
I could dig on using angle brackets for this purpose. I was wrote to her and asked < where do you want me deposit the bodies? >

She wrote back and said < You're an experienced officer; use your initiative >

From an orthographic perspective, I think the angle brackets should come with a space after/before them as demonstrated above. What do you think?
[User Picture]
Date:June 19th, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC)
Actually, while I was double-checking my spelling of Interrobang (Interrobang?!), I was reminded that there is also the Guillemet, which has also been used for marking direct quotation in the past. The very cool bit being that the Guillemet is, effectively, doubled angle brackets.

While I thought of angle brackets at first also, I prefer the Guillemet for two reasons. First, being a more substantial mark on the page, even if it is only represented as two angle brackets, the Guillemet will be harder to overlook. Second, it has an existing typographical history as a marker of direct discourse, and think some historical clout is what will make any adaptation stick. Of course, I think both of their chances of long-term adaptation suffer from the fact that it will play merry hell with existing HTML usage of angle brackets.

As for the orthography, I don't think I like the idea of the preceding and proceding spaces. I can definitely see it helping in matters of keeping everything separate on the page (again, advantage guilletmet), but it flies in the face of standard punctuation orthography. Except for the dash, all English punctuation hugs one or other characters near it. Further, the specifically demarcating punctuation (e.g. parentheses, double quotes and single quotes) hug the preceding character of the phrase to be marked and the last character of it. I think it would be best to hold to that tradition.
[User Picture]
Date:June 19th, 2011 02:11 pm (UTC)
I thought about the Guillemet too, and rejected it precisely because of it's use as a 'regular quotation mark' in other languages -- but in English it would still stand out as something else. And visually, it is certainly better suited to the purpose. Let's do it!
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
Yes, because Americans always respect the usages and practices of other nations and...

OH WAIT! We do the opposite of that! :-P

I say let's do it and let the rest of the world fall into line.

So... we need to get it out there in common usage. Preferably by people with some cultural capital. People... who are read commonly. People who write words a lot. If only I knew some people like that. Hmm...
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