Saturday, December 22, 2007

Words in "quotes"

OK, so here I am laid up with a stinking cold two days before Christmas, determined to shake it off before the big event on the 25th. Right now I am missing Santa's Express on the West Somerset Railway. If you know me then you know I can't be feeling too good to miss a much anticipated steam train trip.

So I have been reading the newspaper on line and have noted some quirky styles involving quotation marks.

For example, the word terroir, which is a French word for the total environment of a grape vine, including soil, climate, drainage, etc., is placed in single 'quotes'. I would have thought, as a foreign word, it should be italicized. No matter, this is the twenty first century.

Then there is the word gutted. Is it actually a word, I ask myself? Again the writer placed the word in quotes but this time in "double quotes". This could imply that the word was said even though the reporter considers it too slangy to use him/herself.

Gutted seems to be a word much used by afficionados (should that be in single quotes?) of the "beautiful game", otherwise known as football or soccer. And here I fall into the modern trap and perhaps explain what is going on. If you feel "gutted" then presumably you haven't actually been gutted as that would suggest you no longer have an intestinal tract. In the same way the "beautiful game" is anything but beautiful except for perhaps one brilliant move every 90 minutes.

So, single quotes = foreign word; double quotes = saying something you don't really mean that says what you mean to mean.

Which leads on to a suggestion for a new year's resolution. No quotes!