When reading something that has a quote in the middle of it, is it proper to say "end quote" or "unquote" to signal the end of the quote? I've heard both ways.
Both are fine and have been used for decades, as far as I know. The OED on "unquote":
The OED on "quote (v.)":
Based on my experience:
Otherwise, either term is fair game.
I've heard people say "unquote" but always assumed it was a corruption of end-quote. Wiktionary backs up this assertion. A quick search of the Corpus of Conteporary American English finds 288 instances of unquote near "quote", typically in a phrase such as
So unquote is definitely a word that people are using.
This question was the source of a heated debate with a friend so some additional research had to be done. We determined that both "end quote" and "unquote" co-evolved with the telegram (1861-1901) and the Dictaphone (1881-1907). (Dates are the approximate period of evolution from early implementation of the technology to first documented use of "end quote" or "unquote" associated with the technology.) Neither term existed before these technologies.
Western Union provided these instructions to secretaries, circa 1907:
The earliest examples we could find in print were in transcripts of official government telegrams circa 1901 and all of those examples were "end quote."
The earliest examples of "unquote" in print were also in transcripts of official government telegrams circa 1910 with the notable distinction that they were all trans-Atlantic telegrams.
It seems that two standards had evolved. "End quote" was being used in domestic telegrams and "unquote" was being used by the operators of the trans-Atlantic cables. Usage of both terms were approximately equal in rarity until the mid-1930's when there was a sudden up-tick in the volume of trans-Atlantic communication of an official nature due to the war. "Unquote" suddenly became much more common although "End quote" did not become less common than it had been. The combined usage of the two terms increased dramatically with nearly all of the new instances "unquote."
As a standard in telegrams, "end quote" definitely came first but it was completely supplanted by "unquote." When punctuation was spelled out for transmission, it was transmitted as written (in words rather than symbols) Based on the practice of charging by the word, "unquote" is one word cheaper to transmit. Both widespread exposure to cable operators during the war and the one-word cost economy may have influenced the switch. By 1954, a similar manual to business users as the 1907 instruction pamphlet advises the use of "unquote."
Both terms have lived on outside of their narrow functional purpose essentially interchangeable. "Unquote" is now far more common; "end quote" is a bit of an anachronism perhaps charming for that reason.
One cannot "unquote" a phrase or word if it is being quoted, unless of course you want to remove the word or phrase being quoted. Doesn't that make sense? To "seal" a quote, one must "end quote", or, "end of quote" which satifies and finalizes the context stated. The term "unquote" must have become common when it was accidently misconstrued with "end quote".
I value what my eighth grade teacher taught the lot of us upon a student "quoting" and "unquoting" something said that I've long forgotten. But I will always remember his lesson to be shared immediately there after on a quoted word or phrase...
If anyone can search historically where this term might have become transformed to it's hideous present (save many reporters and announcers on NPR), I would appreciate the info!
In general, I have always heard "quote-unquote" used in direct sequence before a single word, often one which is being questioned. Example: He insists that low fat products are quote-unquote healthy!
Of course you would never actually write the "quote-unquote". It is for spoken word only. When writing you just put quotations around the word "healthy"
As for "quote" and "end quote", they are used around the body of an actual quotation.
He insists that quote low fat prooducts are the way to go for those trying to persue a healty diet. end quote
Here again, these things are never written, just used during spoken communication to clarify the part of the sentence which is a quotation.
protected by Mitch Jul 12 '14 at 20:52
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