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Foreign quotes…

By on October 23, 2008

The greatest – and I do mean greatest – quote by any non native in a second language has to be that belonging to US President, J. F. Kennedy. On June 26th 1963 he declared ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. Here comes the shocking part: he did not categorise himself as a jelly filled doughnut in saying those words, as the whole world, it seems, thinks he did.

In fact, according to the nuances of German, his translation of ‘I am a person of Berlin’ was perfect, as should any translation be. And that includes the punctuation, and brings me nicely to the topic of this entry: foreign quotation marks.

Not only do words and meaning vary from language to language (as well as region to region) but punctuation, and its use, does too.

So, there follows a brief overview of the different methods employed on this planet of ours for displaying quotations. Thanks to a French translator of ours, Philippe Maillard, for the information.

[EDIT: Thanks for the comments highlighting the inaccuracies in my post, which I have amended accordingly!]
Language Level 1 Level 2 Alt codes
Bulgarian „ … “ „ … “ Alt&0132 Alt&0147
Czech „ … “ , … ‘ Alt&0132 Alt&0147
Danish Any marks are allowed! Alt&0132 Alt&0147
Dutch „…” Alt&0147 Alt&0148 No spaces around the quotes
English “ … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0147 Alt&0148
Estonian „ … ” „ … ” Alt&0132 Alt&0148
Finnish ” … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0148
French « … » ‹ … › Alt&0171 Alt&0187 Spaces around the guillemets
Gaelic “ … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0147 Alt&0148
German „ … “ , … ‘ Alt&0132 Alt&0147
Greek « … » ‹ … › Alt&0171 Alt&0187
Hungarian „ … ” » … « Alt&0132 Alt&0148
Italian “ … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0147 Alt&0148
Latvian „ … ” „ … ” Alt&0132 Alt&0148
Lithuanian „ … “ „ … “ Alt&0132 Alt&0147
Maltese “ … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0147 Alt&0148
Norwegian « … » ‘ … ‘ Alt&0171 Alt&0187
Polish „ … ” » … « Alt&0132 Alt&0148
Portuguese “ … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0147 Alt&0148
Romanian „ … ” « … » Alt&0132 Alt&0148
Slovak „ … “ , … ‘ Alt&0132 Alt&0147
Slovene „ … “ , … ‘ Alt&0132 Alt&0147
Spanish “ … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0147 Alt&0148
Swedish ” … ” ‘ … ‘ Alt&0148

COMMENTS

An interesting list! Unfortunately, it does not do justice to the matter at hand. For example, traditional Dutch style is „…”, not “…”, which is of more recent date. Typically German »…« also remains unmentioned. And the layout of the list ignores the difference between the traditionally French usage of « … » (with spaces around the quotation marks, or guillemets) on the one hand, and Dutch “…”/„…” or German »…« (without such spaces) on the other.


Pepijn on Oct 23, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Actually there are no rules for the form of Danish quotation marks. Most people will use “…”, but all other possibilities are accepted. The only rule being that they show a clear distinction between the text inside the marks, and the rest of the text.
(Dansk Retskrivningsordbog §64)


Daniel B on Oct 24, 2008 at 6:30 am

sorry, §58, not 64.


Daniel B on Oct 24, 2008 at 6:32 am

Norwegian uses guillemets for Level 1 quotes: « … »
and upper single quotes for Level 2: ‘ … ’

(although the stupidity of MS Word has made its influence on people)


try some Ove Kvavik on Oct 24, 2008 at 8:17 am

Hi everyone,

Thanks very much for your comments.

I apologise for getting some of them wrong: I will amend accordingly now!


admin on Oct 24, 2008 at 8:53 am

When I rule the world, we’ll all use └ … &#9488 for quoting. A clean break with tradition. 🙂


Adrian Morgan on Oct 28, 2008 at 9:17 am

Thanks for an interesting post!
Russian uses « … » for level 1, and „ … “ for level 2.


Maxim on Nov 13, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Awesome post!
Japanese uses 「・・・」 for level one and 『・・・』 for level two.


Karla on Nov 14, 2008 at 12:40 am

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valutas on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Super information,I have Digged this site to my list for future and will keep a eye on your other postings.


Yale alarms on May 02, 2010 at 10:12 am

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