Fancy and plain quotes

rogersgeorge on January 8th, 2010

Word processors have advanced a lot since I started out in computing (a 64K Color Computer, on which I taught myself BASIC). When you type a quotation mark, the big word processors figure out which direction to make the curly quotes.  Text editors and other simple word processors generally use the simpler straight quotes.

Aside: I am the proud owner of a pocket knife I inherited from my grandfather that has the word “Rajah” inscribed on it, and the closing quote is not an upside-down version of the opening quotes. It’s a mirror image, which is how they ought to be. That convention died out a long time ago when typographers eliminated a bin of punctuation marks by turning the opening marks over. Since they were doing it all by hand, I suppose I can’t blame them, but I still like mirror-image marks.

By convention nowadays, we use the curly quotes for quotation marks, and the straight quotes as an abbreviation for feet and inches. This is a useful distinction, but how do you get your word processor to make the straight ones when you need them?

Here’s something I just discovered:

In the latest version of MS Word, version 2007, you can get straight quotes by typing the quote key, then pressing the backspace key. The curly changes to straight. Slick; only one extra keystroke.

Have you discovered a handy shortcut for something you do when you write? Share!

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In the Bible or not?

rogersgeorge on January 7th, 2010

Lots of people like to quote the Bible. Unfortunately, lots of people like to quote some old saw and say it’s from the Bible. Now you certainly have permission to repeat old saws, but don’t betray your illiteracy by making the wrong attribution.

Here are a few aphorisms (fancy word for old saw) that lots of people get wrong:

  • Money is the root of all evil—Sorry, it’s LOVE of money etc. Go look at I Timothy 6:10
  • God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform—part of a hymn by William Cowper. Closest similar thought in the Bible would be Hebrews 1:1, maybe Isaiah 55:8f  (f is an abbreviation in verse references and elsewhere for “single (verse) following.” ff means “more than one (verse) following.”
  • God helps those who help themselves—Poor Richard’s Almanack.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness—Ben Franklin again. Cleanliness is part of godliness. See Leviticus 10:10 and lots of other places.
  • Do unto others what you would have others do unto you—Right idea, but stated backwards. Matthew 17:12 says. “… all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…”
  • To thine own self be true—Hamlet. His dad is giving him advice as Hamlet heads off to college. It’s a good list of advice.
  • All things come to him that waits—Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn, first story (the student’s tale)

I could go on. What are your favorite Bible misquotes? Tell us in the comments, and be sure to give the correct citation. Today’s topic was stimulated by today’s Dilbert.