Situation-Dependent Quotation Punctuation: Questation Marks, Quoproximation Signs, Quoquivalence Symbols, Quodaptation Marks


The Problem – Quotation Punctuation Inadequacy

I have become aware of an annoying and troublesome lack of appropriate punctuation for certain subcategories of quotations. Even excluding the case of unintentional misquotes, given that one can hardly be expected to use punctuation indicating an incorrect quotation if one doesn’t know the quotation is incorrect, several subclasses of quotations exist which could benefit from specialized punctuation.1

I could not, of course, ignore such a challenge.

Quotation Punctuation Proposal

This is both a proposal and an audition of sorts for the specialty quotation punctuation system I’ve devised.2

Quotation Of Uncertain Accuracy: Questation Marks

If a writer cannot ascertain the exact wording of a quotation and conscientiously wishes to alert his or her readers to this uncertainty, Questation Marks would be appropriate:


Quotation Approximation: Quoproximation Signs

If the writer is confident the quotation is, if not exactly correct, then at least very close to the original, Quoproximation Signs would indicate that gradation of assurance.


Quotation Accurate In Meaning But Uncertain Wording: Quoquivalence Symbols

If the writer is certain that the meaning of the quotation is maintained although the precise wording may vary from the original, the Quoquivalence Symbols would be the best choice.


Quotation Intentionally Changed To Emphasize Not Mislead: Quodaptation Marks

If the writer, however, enhances a quotation by purposely changing it, he or she would use these Quodaptation Marks:


More Situation-Dependent Quotation Punctuation

  • Misattribution Marks
  • Contextual Confusion Confessionals
  • Self-quotation Mirror Marks
  • QuidProQuotation Marks

See Situation-Dependent Quotation Punctuation – Part 2

Update: Also see Trumpty Dumpty Quotation Marks


Note: Originally posted Sep 21, 2006 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. That the category of quotation marks is not fully developed should not, I suppose, be surprising since quotation marks are the youngest of the forms of punctuation, having been devised in the latter portion of the seventeenth century. []
  2. I should mention that other additions to standard English punctuation have been suggested; the Wikipedia lists several candidates under the title, Irony Punctuation,which, it seems to me, would be tremendously useful for clarifying tone in email messages. []

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