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Quote or Quotation?

10 October 2019

PG has been seeing the word “quotation” used in places he would expect to see, “quote” lately.

As in, “Here’s a quotation from President Trump.”

He understands that English is a constantly growing and evolving language, but this strikes him as a little strange.

The OED defines quotation, in part, as:

  • 1.a group of words taken from a text or speech and repeated by someone other than the original author or speaker:“a quotation from Mark Twain”(synonyms omitted)
  • 2.a formal statement setting out the estimated cost for a particular job or service:“you will be sent a written quotation for the cost of repairing your machine” (synonyms omitted)

Dictionary.com says, in part:

  1. something that is quoted; a passage quoted from a book, speech, etc.:a speech full of quotations from Lincoln’s letters.
  2. the act or practice of quoting.

Is quotation merely a longer way of saying “quote” or is there something more subtle going on or is it part of the decline and fall of the English language?

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2 Comments to “Quote or Quotation?”

  1. Richard Hershberger

    “Is quotation merely a longer way of saying “quote”…”

    The other way around, actually. The verb “quote” is attested to 1582, per Merriam Webster, while the noun “quote” only dates to 1888. The noun “quotation,” on the other hand, goes back to 1607.

    “…or is it part of the decline and fall of the English language?”

    In other words, the noun “quote” is a nouning of the verb, and redundant with the traditional form “quotation.” Persons who enjoy lamenting the impending demise of English typically include the use of “quote” for “quotation” in their exhibit list, not the other way around.

  2. It’s the whole nominalization thing. (And remember: “nominalization” is a nominalization.)

    “Quote” is ambiguously a verb or a noun. “Quotation” is unambiguously a noun, so the reader/listener — there is still such a thing as radio news for commuters, it’s not just about podcasts! — has an additional cue concerning the material.

    I leave it to the Miss Grundys (note the excrutiatingly correct absence of an apostrophe there!) of the basic-style world to pontificate on their preference, and continue to object that a preposition or other connective construction is a dubious thing to end a sentence with.

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