46 votes
Accepted

Why doesn't James Joyce ever use quotation marks?

James Joyce preferred dashes to quotation marks for aesthetic reasons. He even went so far as to call quotation marks "perverted commas". He remarks on his dislike of quotation marks at various ...
DyingIsFun's user avatar
  • 1,104
22 votes

Why does the "ô" in this "rôle" have a circumflex?

The term “role” as an actor’s part comes from the French “rôle.” It originally came to English as a loan word at a time when Paris was the center of innovation in the modern theater —- the time of ...
Kevin Troy's user avatar
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20 votes
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The Torah is written without vowels?

As other answers have mentioned, what is meant is simply what is said: many renderings of the Torah leave out the vowel markers (and punctuation). As several comments have offered, this is a common ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 443
19 votes

Why does Tolkien use neither quotes nor cursive writing, and all lower-case, in this specific "quote"?

I've not been able to find a scanned early edition text in a quick search, but I have checked out the scanned copies of the 1994 Houghton Mifflin Edition and the 2001 Quality Paperback Book Club ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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19 votes

The Torah is written without vowels?

Vowels in Hebrew - called n'kudot - are written as dots and lines surrounding the letters. In an actual Torah - written on parchment - these symbols aren't there. As an example, here's a picture of a ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 23.8k
15 votes

Why doesn't James Joyce ever use quotation marks?

It's called "quotation dashes," or "theater style," or "the continental manner." The latter term is because it's used (among several other styles, like < > ) by many languages common in continental ...
BESW's user avatar
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13 votes

Why does the "ô" in this "rôle" have a circumflex?

The etymology of "role" is easy to find out, but when and why is the circumflex retained in modern English? Numerous (unofficial) sources on the internet confirm my impression that the usage ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
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The beginning words in Andrew's Brain by E. L. Doctorow: "I CAN TELL you"

In my copy of the book all the chapters have the first two or three words in small caps. For example chapter 2 starts: YOU ASKED ME to keep a diary or daybook. Writing is like talking to yourself, ...
John Rennie's user avatar
11 votes

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

They cut his work a lot, and he couldn't do much about it. His first book of poetry, Tulips and Chimneys (T&C), was especially edited. The original manuscript contained 152 poems, but only 86 ...
Beastly Gerbil's user avatar
8 votes

Why aren't God's pronouns capitalized in Paradise Lost?

Reverential capitalization has never been a constant in English language works, and it's newer than you think. John Milton, born as the final touches were being made on the King James Version, may not ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 1,914
7 votes
Accepted

Apostrophes at the beginning of stanzas in Byron's "The Giaour"

It's not an apostrophe but an opening quotation mark, paired with a closing quotation mark at the end of the stanza. If I am understanding rightly, this stanza is spoken by a monk into whose monastery ...
Gareth McCaughan's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Why does the "ô" in this "rôle" have a circumflex?

In many contexts it has been traditional to render (recent) loanwords exactly as spelt in the source language (especially if that language is French), including diacritics not used in native English ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 186
6 votes

What is the earliest book where bad spelling is primarily for humor value?

James Whitcomb Riley was perhaps the most well-known American humorist who wrote primarily in dialect. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is probably the best-known American book written in dialect, but it'...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 2,336
5 votes

Why the capitalization of "Heavens" in Rudyard Kipling's "The Secret of the Machines"?

This poem seems to have two meanings here, a literal one and a metaphorical one. Let's look at the last eight lines: We are greater than the Peoples or the Kings—    Be humble, as ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
  • 12.1k
5 votes

Was it common in the late 19th century to write normal places, like "cross roads" and "corners" in capital letters?

I don't know about this specific book, but they could simply be actual place names. For instance: Cross Roads, Pennsylvania. And an 1861 NYT news article reports that "The skirmish took place ...
Ray Butterworth's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Can stream of consciousness have punctuation/structure?

In general, a lot of terms in literature are not very strictly defined: the definitions may vary among different schools of study and different people may use the same term in different ways. I say ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
Accepted

What is "a Man in the Top" in Crawford's 'The Screaming Skull'?

The narrator of ‘The Screaming Skull’ describes himself as ‘an old sailor’, and this paragraph is set aboard a ship, so ‘Top’ has this meaning: top, n.1. 9.a. A platform near the head of each of the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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4 votes

What is the earliest book where bad spelling is primarily for humor value?

But I am wondering what the earliest book is in English that uses bad spelling for humor value. I realise I'm somewhat stretching the scope of your question, but if you include plays as "books&...
Chappo Hasn't Forgotten's user avatar
4 votes

What is the reason for partial highlighting in "The Sandman"?

What @Emrakul said, but also because Todd Klein did the lettering. Letterers don't get much notice or respect, but Klein is something of a rockstar in his field. I believe Will Eisner was the first ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
  • 4,178
3 votes
Accepted

Why is there no spelling consistency in Robert Ludlum's books?

Having searched the 2010 and 2012 Orionbooks.co.uk paperback editions Internet Archive copy of the edition, OP has stated they have an orionbooks.co.uk edition in comments, I am not able to find any ...
Spagirl's user avatar
  • 18.9k
3 votes
Accepted

E E Cummings: [may i feel said he] What may parentheses signify?

Instead of interpreting ‘may i feel said he’ as describing the gradual unfolding of a relationship, I think it works better to read it as the dialogue of two lovers engaged in sexual intercourse, ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.1k
3 votes

Why does the "ô" in this "rôle" have a circumflex?

As has been mentioned, rôle is the retained French spelling of the original word and not terribly common (although it got a bit of a renaissance in my own writing thanks to the influence of Donald ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
  • 3,045
2 votes

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

There are two theories about the proper use of commas in written English. Theory 1: commas mark pauses in the spoken sentence. Theory 2: commas mark syntatic divisions of the sentence. The one is a ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
  • 4,135
2 votes

Why doesn't James Joyce ever use quotation marks?

This is strictly a matter of differences in punctuation styles among writers of English from different nations. I love Joyce, and find his use of dashes for quotations economical, elegant and perfect ...
Matt Buckingham's user avatar
2 votes

Meaning of the slash ("/") in dialog in Ernst Toller's "Die Wandlung"

I speak no German and have no knowledge of the play beyond what quarter of an hour on Google has rendered. From that it is clear that the characters whose speech is broken up with obliques are dead ...
Spagirl's user avatar
  • 18.9k
2 votes

How is capitalization being used in Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning"?

The difference is based in grammar. The capitalised terms fall into two groups. There are the straightforward nouns, 'Rock' and 'River' etc preceded by an indefinite article, 'A' and which can be ...
Spagirl's user avatar
  • 18.9k
2 votes

What is the intention and purpose behind the "dash style" book format compared to the "quote style" one?

Your examples aren't representative of how I've seen dash style used (mostly in books in Spanish, but James Joyce also used it, perhaps because of his exposure to it while living in France). When ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
  • 3,045
2 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between parentheses () and square brackets [] when enclosing real-time interjections in the Kane Chronicles?

I realized the answer in the process of writing the question. Square brackets enclose statements addressed to Carter, while parentheses enclose statements addressed to the reader (or, I guess, ...
bobble's user avatar
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