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Have you ever been “irked” by a sign at the laundromat? “Annoyed” by a restaurant menu? Were some errant quotation marks to “blame?”
A seafood sign that reads “Fresh” Fish may seem more comical than appealing to the everyday diner, but are those quotation marks really as incorrectly used as they seem? Not necessarily.
Quotation marks have had a long and confusing life. From the margins of text they’ve moved into the limelight helping us decipher direct quotations and highlighting words for emphasis, but their usage is still in question as they continually evolve.
“From the beginning there hasn’t been an agreement on exactly what they do,” says Colette Moore, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington. “Its not that they’ve done only one thing, they’ve shifted from use to use. We first start seeing them in the 16th century. They were called inverted commas because if you take thatRead More »from What’s old is “new” again: the unusual evolution of the quotation mark