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Quotes make me shudder

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The practice of using punctuation to indicate verbatim speech seems to have had its origins in the diple, a caret-like ancient Greek marking used to call attention to part of a text. By the late 15th century, the diple had been replaced by a pair of inverted commas placed in the left margins to indicate quotations, and by end of the 18th century the inverted commas were being used to open and close quoted material. Single and double quotes battled it out for a time, with double quotes emerging as the norm by the 19th century for quoted speech and single quotes for reported speech within a quote. Quote marks were also used for the titles of articles and other short works. By the 20th century, editorial conventions for quoting were stable and quotation marks had been extended to new uses, such as signaling technical terms, identifying cited words, and to mean “so-called” (this last, a favorite of Henry James). It’s easy to imagine how such new uses emerged. Quotes for technical terms. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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