The BBC's use of quotation marks

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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:20 am

Does it stop at Tucamcari?
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:26 pm

I've just sent the following email to the BBC asking them for an explanation of their practice. The email draws on postings in this thread from both myself and Daverbal. I'll report back if they reply.

--------------------------

Please explain the eccentric use of inverted commas in the headlines of many of the stories published on the BBC's website.

The inverted commas don't necessarily indicate either a literal usage (as in Clint Eastwood's well-known challenge, "Make my day") or a figurative usage (Italian PM attacked 'out of the blue'). The only commonality seems that they usually surround the predicate of the headline, but the headlines read perfectly fine without them.

Some examples:

Iranian troops 'take control of Iraqi oil well'
Douglas reveals cancer 'struggle'
Garner 'stalker' faces US charges
US 'to return Yemeni detainees'
India 'has fewer Kashmir troops'

I presume that sometimes you are quoting someone without direct attribution, but this does not explain why you do it when the facts described within quotation marks are unquestionable and do not need to be signalled as being opinions or unchecked assertions (which the BBC should not be basing its news stories on in any case).

The practice makes it appear as though the BBC has no confidence in its own reporting, or that it is suggesting that its sources are not to be trusted. Not only is this highly irritating, it also comes across as patronizing.
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:44 pm

BBC 'should not be'.
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:54 am

Reporting back: No reply to the email I sent to the BBC.

Today an article by Jon Lackman appeared in Slate magazine that attempts to explain why the Tea Partiers (or Teabaggers, as I think of them) are so fond of over-capitalizing their words.

Apparently it doesn't have much to do with what one might term elite cred -- sorry, of course I meant Elite Cred.
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by zmjezhd » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:23 pm

The 2009-12-28 to Yuma has just left the station.

Unfortunately, thereafter, it came to a full stop.
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by marie26 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:27 am

To dunk one's scrotum into the open mouth of another person
"Man, Brenda was all passed out with her mouth open and Billy teabagged her"
Tea Partiers (or Teabaggers, as I think of them) are so fond of over-capitalizing their words.
Is the above definition what you were alluding to Erik?
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:09 am

Actually, what was at the back of my mind was the modern sense of 'carpetbaggers'.

But thanks for creating this wholesome new association for me. :-)
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by allen-uk » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:35 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:
It also reminds me of the equally annoying habit that some people have of giving capitals For No Real Reason to Certain Words they feel are Particularly Important.
Not sure I agree with you there, Erik.

I've never really been sure why it went out of fashion, as I find the occasional use a Good Thing. (A bit like underlining, or even since the computer, italicizing the odd word). (I used to set type for a living, although never by hand, and wonder whether the ease of lower-case setting had anything to do with it).

A
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:19 pm

It would certainly get confusing with German.

Stylistically, it grates on my sensibilities - I think it's because it's so easy for some people to overdo it, which then necessarily makes it fairly useless as an emphasising device.

Style guides almost always recommend 'writers' to avoid using peculiar layouts, weird typefaces and weird font colours, and / or a surfeit of typefaces and font sizes. I'm sure idiosyncratic use of punctuation, including capitalisation, is best also kept to a minimum.
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:37 pm

While we're talking about the misuse of quotation marks, here are some doozies:

http://distractify.com/people/the-30-mo ... n-history/
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by trolley » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:04 pm

Thank you, Erik. I was laughing out loud all the way through those. Everytime I thought I'd read the best one, they just kept topping each other. Budweiser "Beer"! I've got smile cramps in my cheeks!
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:43 pm

"You're welcome".

No, seriously -- you're welcome. And you're absolutely right -- Budweiser is to beer as Liptons is to tea.
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Re: The BBC's use of quotation marks

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:56 am

Yes, thankyou for those misquotes, Erik.

They're' a lot of" fun.
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End of topic.
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