Germans call them “little goose feet”, Hungarians refer to them as “cat claws”, the Danish as “goose eyes”. In America we call them quotation marks, and, as you can see, they’ve been quite useful devices even this short distance into today’s Say It For You blog post. (Quotation marks can be used to denote technical terms, terms used in an unusual way, or other expressions that vary from standard usage.)
It’s interesting that famous author and playwright George Bernard Shaw disliked quotation marks, calling them “uncouth bacilli”. Shaw seems to have been referring to the core use of quotation marks, which is to mark the beginning and the end of a quoted passage (something somebody else said). Since we blog content writers often quote things other have said in order to reinforce our points and add value for readers, it’s important for us to become familiar with this form of punctuation.
Gardner and Shane Birley, authors of Blogging For Dummies, remind us to respect copyrights, cautioning us that “Anything and everything you see on the Internet is protected by copyright. It’s more than OK to quote another person’s blog post if you take only parts of it and don’t take the credit for creating it.”
I always explain to newbie blog content writers how important it is to avoid plagiarism and to properly attribute statements to their authors. Linking to another blog that was the original source of a point you’re emphasizing in your own blog helps everyone – the readers, the authors, and you, I add.
Nick Schaferhoff of Torque bemoans the fact that “copied content runs rampant online”. Plagiarism, he explains, consists of not merely using the language and thoughts of another author without authorization, but then representing that author’s work as one’s own. Sometimes it’s “lazy plagiarism”, he says, done almost by accident.
Of course George Bernard Shaw didn’t have the vast content stores of the Internet to contend with. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t appreciate the value of those “uncouth bacilli”, the quotation marks that clearly force authors to think about where material originated.