Questions tagged [orthography]

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

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27
votes
1answer
13k 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 ...
23
votes
3answers
7k views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

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 ...
9
votes
1answer
137 views

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: ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
210 views

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
100 views

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
173 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
432 views

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, ...
5
votes
1answer
673 views

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, ...
4
votes
1answer
57 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
144 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

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 ...
3
votes
0answers
73 views

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" ...
3
votes
0answers
312 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
89 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
62 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
200 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
48 views

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?