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Next to the originator of a good sentence

is the first quoter of it. Emerson

A quotation is a repetition of a phrase or statement from a book, speech and the like used by way of authority, illustration, proof or as a basis for further speculation on the matter in hand.

By repeating a passage in a new environment, we attach to the utterance an importance it might not have had in the context whence it was taken. Moreover, we give it the status, temporary though it maybe, of a stable language unit. What is quoted must be worth quoting, since a quotation will inevitably acquire some degree of generalization. If repeated frequently, it may be recognized as an epigram, if, of course, it has at least some of the linguistic properties of the latter.

Quotations are usually marked off in the text by inverted commas (“ ”), dashes (—), italics or other graphical means.

They are mostly used accompanied by a reference to the author of the quotation, unless he is well known to the reader or audience. The reference is made either in the text or in a foot-note and assumes various forms, as, for instance:

" as (so and so) has it"; " (So and so) once said that"...; “Here we quote (so and so)” or in the manner the reference to Emerson has been made in the epigraph to this chapter.

A quotation is the exact reproduction of an actual utterance made by a certain author. The work containing the utterance quoted must have been published or at least spoken in public; for quotations are echoes of somebody else's words.

Utterances, when quoted, undergo a peculiar and subtle change. They are rank-and-file members of the text they belong to, merging with other sentences in this text in the most natural and organic way, bearing some part of the general sense the text as a whole embodies; yet, when they are quoted, their significance is heightened and they become different from other parts of the text. Once quoted, they are nо lоngеr rаnк-and-file units. If they are used to baсk uр the ideа expressed in the new text, They become " parent sentences" with the corresponding authority and respect and acquire a symbolizing function; in short, they not infrequently become epigrams, for example, Hamlet's " To be or not to be! "

A quotation is always set against the other sentences in the text by its greater volume of sense and significance. This singles it out, particularly if it is frequently repeated, as any utterance worth committing to memory generally is. The use of quotations presupposes a good knowledge of the past experience of the nation, its literature and culture.1 The stylistic value of a quotation lies mainly in the fact that it comprises two meanings: the primary meaning, the one which it has in its original surroundings, and the applicative meaning, i.e. the one which it acquires in the new context.



1 A quotation from Byron's " English Bards and Scotch Reviewers" will be apt as a comment here: " With just enough of learning to misquote."


Quotations, unlike epigrams, need not necessarily be short. A whole paragraph or a long passage may be quoted if it suits the purpose. It is to be noted, however, that sometimes in spite of the fact that the exact wording is used, a quotation in a new environment may assume a new shade of meaning, a shade necessary or sought by the quoter, but not intended by the writer of the original work.

Here we give a few examples of the use of quotations,

" Socrates said, our only knowledge was

" To know that nothing could be known" a pleasant

Science enough, which levels to an ass

Each man of Wisdom, future, past or present,

Newton (that proverb of the mind) alas!

Declared with all his grand discoveries recent

That he himself felt only " like a youth

Picking up shells by the great ocean—Truth, " (Byron)

" Ecclesiastes said, " that all is vanity" —

Most modern preachers say the same, or show it

By their examples of the Christianity..." (Byron)

Quotations are used as a stylistic device as is seen from these examples, with the aim of expanding the meaning of the sentence quoted and setting two meanings one against the other, thus modifying the original meaning. In this quality they are used mostly in the belles-lettres style. Quotations used in other styles of speech allow no modifications of meaning, unless actual distortion of form and meaning is the aim of the quoter.

Quotations are also used in epigraphs. The quotation in this case possesses great associative power and calls forth much connotative meaning.


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