Language Tip 7 (2014-15)

Quoting.

Quoting is not a get-out-syntax-free card. When you integrate quoted words into your sentence, your “combined” sentence has to be grammatical.

This is nonsense:

In “Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known” Wordsworth uses the symbol of the moon to increase suspense, “the sinking moon,” “on the descending moon,” leading all the way to “at once, the bright moon dropped,” to mark his arrival at Lucy’s cottage, where, “if Lucy should be dead.”

There are two easy tests for whether you have quoted properly:

i) Read your sentence aloud. Is it syntactically sound?

ii) Temporarily eliminate the quotation marks and look at your sentence. Does it make grammatical sense? Can you tell where the quoted passages are? (No? That’s a good thing in this case!)

After all, nobody would write a sentence like this:

In Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known Wordsworth uses the symbol of the moon to increase suspense, the sinking moon, on the descending moon, leading all the way to at once, the bright moon dropped, to mark his arrival at Lucy’s cottage, where, if Lucy should be dead.

Just remember to put the quotation marks back if you use the second test.

 

Here’s another example, albeit one that is syntactically confusing rather than flat-out wrong:

The rhyme “This Is the House That Jack Built” is replete with domestic animals, “the cat / That chased the rat” and dairy products, “the cheese.”

Solution 1:

“This Is the House That Jack Built” is replete with domestic animals, including “the cat / That chased the rat[,]” and dairy products, specifically, “the cheese.”

Solution 2:

“This Is the House That Jack Built” is replete with domestic animals and dairy products, including “the cat / That chased the rat” and “the cheese.”

Try putting the passage on Wordsworth into a sentence that is both correct and clear.
Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

(Skupno 29 obiskov, današnjih obiskov 1)
This entry was posted in Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *