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Which quotation marks should I use? Some sentences use double-quotes, i.e. "...", while others use double-angle-quotes, i.e. «...».

Obviously, the " is correct in English. However, I am not sure which ones to use in Russian. For example, should I write "Это цитата." or «Это цитата.»?

What are the correct symbols to use? Should I use "..." or «...»? If both should be used, when should I use one or the other?

18

Two types of quotation marks are used in Russian typography. The first one is «ёлочки», which is used in more formal writing. The other one is „лапки“. When you have one quote inside another you can use both of them.

На первой полосе было крупными буквами написано: «Пароход „Титаник“ столкнулся с айсбергом».

BTW, even though the sentence “Это цитирует приговор” is grammatically correct, I don't understand what it means.

  • “Это цитирует приговор” is what Google translator says is Russian for "This is a quoted sentence", meaning it is enclosed in quotation marks. If this is incorrect, what is the correct translation? – ctype.h Dec 4 '12 at 5:18
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    Yes, this is incorrect. You can say “это цитата” (“this is a quote”) or “эта фраза — цитата” (“this phrase is a quote”). Sentence “Это цитирует приговор” means “This cites a [criminal] sentence” (“приговор” means “a criminal sentence” as in “He was sentenced to 10 years in prison”). – Yury Dec 4 '12 at 5:32
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    В русском используются немецкие «лапки», посмотрите в Wikipedia: ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Кавычки . В ответе приведены правильные символы. – Yury Nov 30 '16 at 14:39
12

To add to the answers above, here's how you can use the right kind of quotation marks on your computer.

On Mac, while using Russian keyboard layout:

Simultaneously push option, shift and = to type «

Simultaneously push option and = to type »

On Win,

Turn on num lock, then push and hold alt, then type these sequences of numbers on the numeric keypad:

0171 to type «

0187 to type »

0132 to type

0147 to type

Another difference between Russian and English quotation marks is where you put the period. In English, the period is put inside the quote: "Like this." In Russian, the period is put after the quote: «Вот так».

It should be also said, that the outstanding majority of Russians don't use the correct quotation marks on the Internet. As far as I know, the " symbol didn't use to be a quotation mark either (the English quotation marks are and ), and is only used now due to the fact that typewriters lacked the proper signs. However, it is accepted now in English, and is widely used in Russian, despite the snobby attitude the graphic designers have towards it.

  • 1
    Yes, " was used, as they tried to save space on the typewriter keyboard. – Anton Zujev Dec 5 '12 at 11:44
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    Note, that it is an American English requirement to put terminating characters inside the closing quote. British English allows for a more conventional usage. At least, according to the Grammar Girl. – theUg Feb 15 '13 at 15:40
  • And " is still not a quotation mark. Its proper meaning is a second of a degree (minute of a degree is marked as ') in radial quantities, and an inch in linear measurements. – theUg Feb 15 '13 at 15:43
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    @theUg No, it's not the correct mark for that either, the correct mark for both of those is the double prime: ″. The straight double quote was created as an ambiguous symbol that can stand in for any of the various open/close quote styles and the double prime, because there wasn't room for them all on the keyboard, and perhaps because having all of them would have been confusing for the average typist. There are a few places where straight quotes are 100% the correct mark, such as programming languages. – Theodore Murdock Apr 25 '15 at 16:56
4

In typographic text «…» are preferable. In da internetz "…" are used, as no other quotes available on the keyboard. In hand-writing „…“ are used almost exclusively.

By the way, if you want translate something like

“It's very useful to have a gun,” he said with calm voice.

it is better to avoid quotes at all, using direct speech, where applicable:

— Очень полезно иметь пушку, — хладнокровно сказал он.

  • Why is -- better than quotation marks? – ctype.h Dec 3 '12 at 20:42
  • This is one more text editors' problem, when you have to use -- instead of in dialogs. – КуЪ Dec 3 '12 at 21:04
  • @ctype.h '—' is better because it is much more common in direct speech. '- -' are usually used as replacement in da internetz as there is no '—' on keyboard. – permeakra Dec 4 '12 at 6:16
  • What do em-dashes have to do with quotation marks? – ctype.h Dec 4 '12 at 14:52
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    @ctype.h: in Russian, an em-dash is a preferred way to mark direct speech in dialogs. This is unlike English where quotes are used. – Quassnoi Dec 4 '12 at 15:14
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You should use «...». The problem is that many text editors don't allow to use «...» directly, so often you have to replace it with "...". It seems to be the only reason why "..." are used in Russian.

1

Here's what Artemiy Lebedev, the (in?)famous designer, has to say about quotation marks. And a little more - here.

In short, he also says, that the only correct forms of quotation marks in Russian writing/typography are these: «» and „“. They can be used interchangeably, but, as Yury correctly states they can be combined if you need to enclose something in quotation marks when the sentence itself is already quoted.

The usage of these quotes: "" is considered sloppy, excluding special cases, such as writing source code. They is common on the Internet, although it is not true that the correct form of quotation marks is inaccessible on the standard keyboard. They are just slightly harder to remember. :) Here's the list for Windows:

  • Alt+0171 = «
  • Alt+0187 = »
  • Alt+201E = „
  • Alt+201C = “

Although, for the last two to work you need to change the registry and I never succeeded in making it work for me. :(

Oh, and there's yet another way - Ilya Birman's typographic keyboard layout. It has all the symbols you may need.

  • Fed up with your Lebedev – КуЪ Dec 4 '12 at 8:45
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    Try converting them to decimal. Alt+8222 and Alt+8220 work in some programs. – ctype.h Dec 4 '12 at 15:04
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    @КуЪ, that's beside the point. – Anton Zujev Dec 5 '12 at 11:45
  • @ctype.h, didn't work for me. – Anton Zujev Dec 5 '12 at 11:46
0
  1. For official documents only «...» should be used;
  2. When writing by hand, the upper and lower double quotes („...“).

  3. In other cases - as you prefer.

  • Welcome to Russian.SE. Can you please state the source of this information? – Aleks G Dec 5 '12 at 9:02

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