Questions tagged [orthography]

Questions about norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalisation, word breaks, emphasis, punctuation and other aspects of orthography.

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Why doesn't the author use quote marks here to signal imagination?

I’m reading the short story “The ticket” in the magazine “Prism International”, written by Emil A. Draitser. It’s a story about a boy named Roma, who wants others stop looking him as a baby. (Link - ...
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6 votes
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Why does Tolkien use neither quotes nor cursive writing, and all lower-case, in this specific "quote"?

Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: the prancing pony by barliman ...
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2 votes
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Dialogue without quotation marks in Colson Whitehead's "The Intuitionist"

Chuck’s theory is that the Safety’s reemergence is part of an oozing conservatism observable in every facet of the elevator industry, from this season’s minimalist cab designs to the return of the ...
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Why are these biblical scenes mentioned in italics and title case in "Satan in Goray"?

In Isaac Bashevis Singer's Satan in Goray, this is mentioned in the descriptions of Levi, Rabbi Benish's son, and Nechele, Levi's wife: Nechele never ceased complaining of how she had fallen into a ...
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Why the different spellings of Belarus?

In several poems in Like Water, like Fire, Belarus is spelled "Byelorussia", and in some it's spelled "Biełaruś". Why is that?
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4 votes
1 answer
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Has "To Autumn" ever ended the first stanza with something other than a period?

Is there an edition of Keats' poem To Autumn which ends the first stanza with something other than a period (full stop)? Do we have an edition of it that Keats saw through the press? I think the ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Apostrophes at the beginning of stanzas in Byron's "The Giaour"

My question is about Byron's The Giaour and the opening apostrophe at the beginning of a stanza. For example: 'His floating robe around him folding, Slow sweeps he through the columned aisle; With ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Was it common in the late 19th century to write normal places, like "cross roads" and "corners" in capital letters?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a young boy was describing the place of blacksmith’s shop, saying: Oh, a couple of miles or so; down at the Cross Roads. Then he said later in ...
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2 votes
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Was it usual for "Society" to be written with an initial capital?

From chapter 9 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace: The Earl of Verlond was a stickler for punctuality: a grim, bent old man, with a face that, so Society said, told eloquently the ...
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8 votes
3 answers
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The Torah is written without vowels?

In Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, Chapter 7 ("The End of Remembering"), he writes: One of the last places where this tradition of recitation still survives is in the reading of ...
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7 votes
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How is capitalization being used in Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning"?

I was looking through Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning", and noticed that there's an interesting use of capitalization in the poem. (I checked multiple version to make sure that this ...
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What is the intention and purpose behind the "dash style" book format compared to the "quote style" one?

I'm reading a book which is formatted like this: -- No! said Gandalf, looking around. We must not go further before we have had a sip of the elf water! The old wizard looked very worried. It's ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of capitalized nouns in a Lord Byron poem

I am referencing to Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (see: Wikipedia article). Here is the opening stanza of the work (TO IANTHE): Not in those climes where I have late been straying, ⁠Though ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Can stream of consciousness have punctuation/structure?

Our English teacher showed us a poem about someone trying to organize thoughts/feelings that haunt them into a list, and revising the list as they go. She claims that this style of writing is stream ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What is "a Man in the Top" in Crawford's 'The Screaming Skull'?

From 'The Screaming Skull' by F. Marion Crawford: I ought not to be nervous. I've sailed in a haunted ship. There was a Man in the Top, and two-thirds of the crew died of the West Coast fever ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Why the capitalization of "Heavens" in Rudyard Kipling's "The Secret of the Machines"?

In Rudyard Kipling's poem The Secret of the Machines the last stanza goes as follows: Though our smoke may hide the Heavens from your eyes, It will vanish and the stars will shine again, ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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What is the earliest book where bad spelling is primarily for humor value?

I've enjoyed books like Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and The BFG by Roald Dahl, where bad spelling and grammar (the BFG's extensive writing on the dream jars) are an integral part of the joke, and ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of the slash ("/") in dialog in Ernst Toller's "Die Wandlung"

I have to translate German playwright Ernst Toller's drama Die Wandlung. In this drama, Toller uses slashes in the dialogues of some characters to separate the sentences, like this: KRIEGSTOD: ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Why is there no spelling consistency in Robert Ludlum's books?

I just started reading "The Bourne Supremacy" and I see that in some places Robert Ludlum spells things the British way, and in others the American way. For example, on one page you'd see "favorite" ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Meaning of this line in Candida by Shaw

There is a speech by Lexy in the beginning of Act I when he is talking to Proserpine: LEXY. Ah, if you women only had the same clue to Man's strength that you have to his weakness, Miss Prossy, there ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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E E Cummings: [may i feel said he] What may parentheses signify?

In the poem [may i feel said he] by e.e. cummings, it has been suggested that it is a dialogue between a male and a female. My interpretation (an obvious one) is the dialogue spans a period of time, ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
143 views

Why did Conrad not add commas to lengthy sentences to make them more readable?

Prof. Brooks Landon, U. Iowa, Ph.D. U. Texas at Austin. Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read (Great Courses) (2013). p. 124.     Listen to the striking ...
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12 votes
2 answers
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What is the reason for partial highlighting in "The Sandman"?

I was just re-reading Preludes and Nocturnes, the first volume of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. In the story titled The Sound of Her Wings, the following conversation takes place: Death: You are ...
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23 votes
3 answers
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Why doesn't James Joyce ever use quotation marks?

None of his books use quotation marks for direct speech. For example: — Will he come? The jejune jesuit! Ceasing, he began to shave with care. — Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly. — Yes, my ...
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15 votes
1 answer
148 views

Did Cummings' editors try to fix his works' eccentricities?

E.E. Cummings often wrote with deliberately unconventional spelling and syntax. It was popularly criticised when published; however, did his editors try to "fix" his work before it was published? If ...
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27 votes
1 answer
14k views

Are quote marks used selectively in "The Handmaid's Tale" or do I have a bad scan of the book?

I've just begun reading The Handmaid's Tale and I'm a bit distracted by the usage (or non-usage) of quote marks in the version I have (ebook). In the second chapter, the handmaid is describing her ...
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