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Old 08-29-2013, 05:42 PM   #1
usuallee
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How annoying is the lack of quotation marks to you?

I just read Louise Erdrich's The Round House. Pretty good book. But no quotation marks were used to denote dialogue. As far as I can determine, Cormac McCarthy started doing this and now lots of literary authors are mimicking the trend.

To me, there is no stylistic reason to omit quotation marks, except to self-consciously announce an author's intention that This Is A Literary Work. I find it utterly pretentious. Your thoughts....

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Old 08-29-2013, 05:45 PM   #2
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I read a book like that once. It was a zombie book. I hated the lack of quotes. I am not sure if I even finished it.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:54 PM   #3
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Where I grew up our books have hyphens to denote dialogue. It takes me a while to get used to quotation marks when I read in English. Still something should be there to make dialogue stand out.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:57 PM   #4
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Absolutely hate it. Hyphens, quotation marks or whatever, something has to denote dialogue.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usuallee View Post
To me, there is no stylistic reason to omit quotation marks, except to self-consciously announce an author's intention that This Is A Literary Work. I find it utterly pretentious. Your thoughts....
Just another step in Modernism. They can't write anything harder to understand than James Joyce without breaking stylistic rules, so that's the next logical step. In a few years, they're going to be using random text generators to make stuff the author himself can't even understand.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:07 PM   #6
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I like understanding who's saying what, and when. Who doesn't? However ... I don't believe quotation marks (or lack thereof) are the be-all end-all factor when it comes to that sort of comprehension.

I've read dialogue that was immaculately quoted and punctuated that I still couldn't make heads or tails out of, no matter how many times I re-read it. Conversely, I've found myself happily reading along for quite some time before I even noticed that there wasn't much in the way of punctuation to denote dialogue.

So I guess the bottom line is: if I don't notice they're not there and the dialogue feels natural and is easy to follow ... I suppose I don't really give a damn if they're there or not. *shrugs*

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usuallee View Post
I just read Louise Erdrich's The Round House. Pretty good book. But no quotation marks were used to denote dialogue. As far as I can determine, Cormac McCarthy started doing this and now lots of literary authors are mimicking the trend.

To me, there is no stylistic reason to omit quotation marks, except to self-consciously announce an author's intention that This Is A Literary Work. I find it utterly pretentious. Your thoughts....
I've never encountered a book that completely omitted quatation marks, but I think it'd be annoying. What I do often observe, is that the closing quotation mark is missing, especially on a longer piece of dialog, like so:

"Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry."
"Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting.<== Missing
"It remaining essentially unchanged."
"It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages."

Quote:
Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
Just another step in Modernism. They can't write anything harder to understand than James Joyce without breaking stylistic rules, so that's the next logical step. In a few years, they're going to be using random text generators to make stuff the author himself can't even understand.
Karma for you, because I LOL-ed

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:28 PM   #8
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I've run across it once in a while. Mostly in fanfic that's not been formatted properly. Although there was one person in a forum that didn't believe in paragraphs, punctuation nor capital letters when they posted. Otherwise, I don't think I've run into any where it was done on purpose.

Can't stand it when I do run across it. I don't want to have to slow down and spend time figuring out if something was actually said out loud, or just thought. You may think someone's a bitch, but not actually say it to their face. I'm not fond of having to stop and figure those things out. That's the author's job, not mine.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by DuskyRose View Post
Although there was one person in a forum that didn't believe in paragraphs, punctuation nor capital letters when they posted.
oh yes i know that sort of people several of them do send me emails regularly with a question and they look like this is it ok to just delete unused folders in the operating system directory so the hard drive will not be as full and also how is your father doing extend my regards to him and your mother also if i see your sister i'll give her the cd with the pictures you made my dog has had his injections at the vet and he was sick all day yesterday today too have a nice day.

Bleh. Those people should be obliged to follow some sort of communication lessions.

Quote:
You may think someone's a bitch, but not actually say it to their face. I'm not fond of having to stop and figure those things out. That's the author's job, not mine.
If you constantly have to think who said what to whom, then the book would be very hard to read indeed.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
What I do often observe, is that the closing quotation mark is missing, especially on a longer piece of dialog, like so:

"Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry."
"Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting.<== Missing
"It remaining essentially unchanged."
"It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages."
That example may not be "missing" anything. That's typographically correct for quoted text that spans multiple paragraphs.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
That example may not be "missing" anything. That's typographically correct for quoted text that spans multiple paragraphs.
That's probably true, I think I've had someone explain that to me ages ago.

But even if correct, I find it jarring. When I get to the end with no matching quotation mark I find myself compelled to go back to see if I missed it somewhere, not wanting to assume something thought is actually dialog.

My brain doesn't like it when half of a pair is missing. I don't care for it at the start of paragraphs in a new chapter, either. I have, on occation had to go back and re-read the first paragraph because I didn't realize it was dialog, but mental description of the scene.

I'm a 'visual' reader, and don't usually see the words when I read, but the video in my head. Anything that pops me out of the moving video and re-read isn't very enjoyable.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:02 PM   #12
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I've run across a few books like that and seriously thought it must be an error at first. I never did bother reading either of them, it's too annoying to sift through.

As DiapDealer said about that instance, that's technically how it should be done. It let's you know the same person is still speaking in the next paragraph, which I find very nice when reading. I often find newer books closing the quote, and that always gets confusing who is speaking next to me. I figured it was just a newer (lazier) trend to always use them instead of knowing when they should or should not be used.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
That example may not be "missing" anything. That's typographically correct for quoted text that spans multiple paragraphs.
You may be right, but I don't understand. What is the reason for omitting the closing quotation mark?

That's the same as making a rule in a programming language that states this: "Using a semicolon will close all brackets of the function or statement that are not yet closed. Stating a new function that has no parameters will close all curly braces in the previous block that are not yet closed."

That's confusing.

Example, for the interested:

Spoiler:


Instead of this:

x = 1;
do (10 times) {
write(x, multiple(x, 5));
x = x + 1;
}
do_more_stuff();

You would be able to write this:

x = 1;
do (10 times) {
write(x, multiple(x, 5;
x = x + 1;
do_more_stuff(;

The ; after the 5 closes the two brackets.
The "write" function takes two parameters, so it doesn't close the curly brace above.
"x = x + 1" is not a function, it's a statement, so it doesn't close the curly brace either.
Therefore, "write" and "x = x + 1" will both belong to the "do" block.
The "do_more_stuff" function has no parameters, so it closes the curly brace of the "do" block, and therefore will not belong to it.
The ; "after do_more_stuff(" closes the last bracket.

While the latter is correct under the mentioned rule, I would not favor this. It's confusing. Actually, I'd probably refuse to write software in such a language.


Be there or not be there, that's not a question. For me, it must be there. If something is explicitly opened, it must also be explicitly closed, or it'll be confusing as hell..

I feel the same way with the missing quotation mark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DuskyRose View Post
I'm a 'visual' reader, and don't usually see the words when I read, but the video in my head. Anything that pops me out of the moving video and re-read isn't very enjoyable.
I know what you mean. I tried to explain this in my topic "The Mind's Eye"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ripplinger View Post
As DiapDealer said about that instance, that's technically how it should be done. It let's you know the same person is still speaking in the next paragraph, which I find very nice when reading. I often find newer books closing the quote, and that always gets confusing who is speaking next to me. I figured it was just a newer (lazier) trend to always use them instead of knowing when they should or should not be used.
Maybe, but my thought is different.

For me, the same person is speaking, until I encounter a closing quote. When reading, and I suddenly encounter an opening quote on a new line, while the previous paragraph / line has not been closed, it just feels weird. It actually feels wrong, while it may not be.

Last edited by Katsunami; 08-29-2013 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
You may be right, but I don't understand. What is the reason for omitting the closing quotation mark?
Simple. The current speaker is not done yet (but a new paragraph is called for).

The opening quote at the beginning of the next paragraphs reminds you that it's still an ongoing quotation.

Otherwise, as Ripplinger mentioned, a closing quote and a new opening quote will often lead the reader to make the mistake of thinking that the first speaker has concluded and a different speaker has begun.

You don't have to like it; I'm not suggesting you should. Typography is not carved in stone and will continue to evolve (just like language). I was merely pointing out that you were mistaken to assume it was a mistake. It's been fairly common practice for a fairly long time.

But to be perfectly honest, dialogue where one speaker continues over multiple paragraphs isn't all that common in most of today's popular fiction. Hence, I think, why many people think it's a "mistake" whenever they encounter it. I find it helpful, myself (once I was clued in to how it worked).

Last edited by DiapDealer; 08-29-2013 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
You may be right, but I don't understand. What is the reason for omitting the closing quotation mark?
I don't remember if this is something I learned or something I assumed, but I always understood the reason for this was to signal that it wasn't a new speaker.

If the paragraph ended with a quotation mark, and the very next paragraph began with one, I took that as a visual clue that it was someone else speaking. If not, same speaker.

Oh - and my opinion on no quotation marks at all? Fuggetaboutit. I wouldn't bother to read it.

I read authors now who may have the characters thinking to themselves in the middle of a conversation. They often set those off now by italicizing the thoughts and putting quotation marks around the spoken words. How confusing would that be without any visual cues?? This occurs to me now because I've been noticing it today in the audiobook I'm listening to.

For example, maybe some jerk that a woman otherwise has to be polite to (maybe a boss or friend of a friend) asks her out for a date. You'll seem something like:

Quote:
"Hey, baby, wouldn't you like to come and see my etchings tonight?"

Not if my life depended on it. "Oh, I'm sorry, but I've got book club."
The character in the audiobook I'm listening to now has a sarcastic streak a mile wide, but she's in a political situation where she has to behave herself, at least outwardly. So there are lots of mental asides like this, and it's not always obvious from the reading that she didn't actually say something smart-ass like that out loud, other than you know she shouldn't.

(And even more off topic, she's currently in a situation where a being who maintains safe passage in a sort of magical way-station can hear everyone's thoughts, so he keeps responding to her mental asides and getting her in trouble with the stiff-necked lords she's travelling with )

EDITED TO ADD: Oops, sorry DiapDealer. We were pretty much typing at the same time!

Last edited by FizzyWater; 08-29-2013 at 09:03 PM.
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