Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quoting Angelou's Quotation

There's an article in the Washington Post today (  about the new Martin Luther King, Jr statue.  Renowned poet Maya Angelou has voiced her disapproval of how the statue creators paraphrased of one of King's speeches, and she is quoted as saying, "The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit."  Now, I'm not taking sides on this one, and I certainly do not want to take too much away from Angelou's point, but this brings up a great teachable moment that I couldn't pass up.  Angelou uses the word "quote", when really, she should have said, "quotation".  Why? 

Quite simply, "quote" is the
verb, and "quotation" is the noun!
It's simple..."quote" is a verb and "quotation" is a noun.  What Angelou should have said was, "The quotation makes..."  I hear this all the time, and have certainly caught myself making the same mistake, but it never hurts to know the correct form.  So, quite simply, if you are talking about something that has been said or written (a "thing", if you will), the correct word is "quotation".  If you are doing the action or describing someone else's action, use "quote". 

N.B.  I did find some research that suggests that "quote" as a noun is acceptable in casual and informal writing/speak, but the English purists out there don't seem to like that one bit!

Some examples:
I love the quotation, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
The girl quoted many quotations in her essay.
We read many famous quotations while at the library.
She quoted Einstein quite often.

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