In official letters, registration documents and common usage one can often see unbalanced quotation marks, e.g. «Операция «Багратион», ОАО «Корпорация «Комета» - two opening quotes followed by only one closing quote.

I would like to automate correct placement of quotation marks. For instance, given a sentence

 Газета "Правда" сообщила, что Иванов, 
 возглавлявший ОАО "Корпорация "Ромашка", 
 уходит в отставку.

that has five quotation marks enter image description here

the quotation marks 1,3, and 4 are opening and the marks 2, and 5, are closing.

In general terms, I would like to understand if unbalanced quotation marks make correct usage? Is this specific to the Russian language?

As for the implementation details, it seems that the choice of opening and closing quotation marks in the Russian language follows a simple rule:

If a quotation mark follows a space or a punctuation mark, then it must be a closing quote, otherwise it is an opening quote.

Is this rule correct?

  • 4
    If it's possible, you should write «Операция „Багратион“», and if you have only one kind of quotation mark, you shouldn't to repeat it (»» not allowed) Jul 17 '15 at 5:15
  • @Artemix, it's a half-answer Jul 17 '15 at 7:21
  • 1
    Вот авторитетный источник: old-rozental.ru/punctuatio.php?sid=178
    – Artemix
    Jul 17 '15 at 9:18
  • @Artemix so Rosenthal states that inner and outer quotes must be of different type? That definitely answers my question. Though I am seeing texts and document deviate from this rule. Perhaps the views did change with the advent of inexpensive typesetting. Jul 17 '15 at 9:26
  • 1
    Цитата: Если между внутренними и внешними кавычками стоит вопросительный/восклицательный знак, то могут использоваться кавычки одного рисунка: Выдающимся публицистическим произведением М. Горького является статья «С кем вы, «мастера культуры»?».
    – Artemix
    Jul 17 '15 at 9:27

There are two types of quotes in Russian: «French-style» - considered to be the main punctuation tool and „German-style“ - an additional one. Note that usual "English-style" is not officially allowed.

If you use both "French" and "German" quotation marks they must be both balanced and nested as «xxx „yyy «zzz „ttt“»“» etc. But if you use only "French" quotes then several closing quotes must be absorbed into one.

Considering commas and dots, there's no "simple" rule. If, say, dots or exclamation mark are a natural part of quoted text then they go inside quotes; otherwise outside.

  • Thanks for the word "absorbed", it describes the process well. Sorry, I did not formulate the question clear enough. I am looking for a rule to choose between opening and closing quotes, not order of quotes and punctuation marks. Given a sentence aaa "bbb", ccc "ddd"., I need to figure out which quotation marks are opening and which are closing. Here the second and the fourth quotation marks are closing, because followed by a comma or a point, while the first and the third are opening. Jul 17 '15 at 8:52
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    @DmitriChubarov Это понятно. Но дело в том, что хотя цитата вряд ли будет начинаться со знака пунктуации, всё же нет правила, которое бы это прямо запрещало. То есть Ваша эвристика не будет 100% рабочей. Например, «В русском языке есть следующие знаки пунктуации: «, . : ;», а также пробел». Я понимаю, что выглядит как-то неуклюже, но в технических текстах нарваться на подобную штуку можно в пять секунд.
    – Matt
    Jul 17 '15 at 10:02

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