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Setting a good example

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message 1: by James (new)

James Court | 227 comments I spent the evening with my 8 year old granddaughter. She is reading a Harry Potter book. To my surprise the direct speech in this 560 page volume is all encapsulated in single rather than double quotes, and both ends of the blocks of speech use the opening quote rather than matched pairs of mirror imaged symbols.
Surely a publisher should take some care when printing a book that is aimed at children, and from an author with a track record of high sales volumes? How can we expect the next generation to possess good writing skills if bad examples are present in such a widely read book?


message 2: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments It's a stylistic choice not an error. Some authors prefer single quotes - eg Terry Pratchett. Some don't use them at all - Cormac McCarthy and James Joyce come to mind.

Even with double speech marks there is a choice between the symmetrical " and the classical 66 and 99, as we used to call them when we were kids.

Kids are pretty resilient and flexible. They will usually understand.


message 3: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 5 comments I use double with dialogue. I think, technically, this is incorrect in British books?

I was told it should be single. However, I wasn't taught in school which was correct and I don't believe it's taught now whether double or single are correct. I think things like this have gone by the by.

Books have changed quite a lot in terms of what should and shouldn't be done in terms of Double and Single quotation.

I know this can be frustrating for a lot of readers or writers who work in the correct, standard way but I think this has changed massively in recent years.


message 4: by James (new)

James Court | 227 comments I'm beginning to think this is a regional thing.


message 5: by Rob (new)

Rob Gregson (nullroom) | 374 comments Mod
I've always used doubles but I agree with Will; I think it's a style issue.

I once heard the suggestion that it saves publishers money by reducing the amount of ink needed on big print runs. I have no idea whether that's a genuine consideration, though. It sounds unlikely. Personally, I use doubles because it allows me to differentiate between speech and content that feels like it should be put in (single) inverted commas.


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