Saturday, October 13, 2007

I think this one is fine

ok, three people have sent me this from the Apple Headlines site, so we should discuss it for 2 reasons: 1) I could be wrong 2) any excuse to talk about how much I love Al Gore. Good choice, Nobel committee.

Anyway, this one doesn't count because in headlines quotes usually mean they are quoting someone. Newspapers have copy editors. It might also be a practice of the writer distancing him/herself from a highly emotional word that isn't unbiased enough to use without quotes. Anyway, in this case it's a quote of Mr. Gore. The blurb under the headline reads:
The BBC News indicates that Al Gore feels “honored” at being awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, seeing it as a “chance ‘to elevate global consciousness’ about the threat posed by climate change.”

So the quotes don't indicate that we're not sure whether or not he was given the honor, they indicate that he said "I'm honored." I'm not really sure what the quotes within the quotes mean, is Gore citing somebody else in what's already quoted?


Peter Hosey said...

Even though I'm one of the three who suggested it, after your reply (and this post), I agree with you: It works just fine as a quote.

The only thing wrong with it, if anything, is that it's surprising to read. It comes off as the usual unnecessary quotation marks at first (it did to me), but thought reveals that they are, in fact, appropriate.

Unknown said...

Actually, since Yassir Arafat was a past recipient, I would be suspect about being associated with him by receiving this "honor" myself.

john said...

i think.... i think they're quoting BBC News quoting Al Gore there. weird.

James Gilmore said...

They didn't include parenthetical citations in the text. That's academic dishonesty.

Anonymous said...

It's not wrong, strictly speaking, but it's certainly bad style. Unfortunately, examples such as this are becoming increasingly common as journalists are instructed to avoid indirect quotes, and editors ‘correct’ them when they do, due to indirect quotes being seen as begin susceptible to bias./ The following is far more readable, and, I'm guessing, what the writer intended:

"The BBC News indicates that Al Gore feels honoured for being awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, seeing it as a chance to elevate global consciousness about the threat posed by climate change."

The fear of being seen as having twisted the words of both the BBC and Al Gore, however, lead it to its current state (despite it being no more objective, nor any more readable, than it was before.) Though in this case, I'm not sure what there was to twist.

As an aside, another way they could have punctuated it is the following:

The BBC News indicates that Al Gore feels “honoured… [for having been] awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize" He sees it as "[a] chance to elevate global consciousness about the threat posed by climate change.”

But this has exactly the kind of 'word-twisting' that the newspaper was trying to avoid, only made explicit.

jspencer said...

Wow, I think it's wrong simply because you have to know the context to make it correct. That's a very poorly written headline! Shouldn't it be Al Gore "honored" to be named Nobel Prize recipient?

Zeno Izen said...

The headline is perfectly fine. The quotation marks indicate that the word "honored" came out of Gore's very mouth.

Plus, "to be named" is passive voice, therefore no better than "as recipient."

Many people are not aware of exactly how difficult headline writing can be.

bethany said...

I agree Zeno, that's why I don't usually post them. It's hard to write blog post titles, and they don't actually have to communicate what the post is about.

Unknown said...

A couple of years ago I noticed the prevalence of awkward quotation marks in the BBC news feed, and asked a friend who works for the BBC about it - they're quoting the article for the feed. I tried to explain to her what was funny about it and ended up feeling like a dumb American.

jspencer said...

I agree that it's perfectly fine grammatically (I guess "wrong" wasn't the right word) but I think it's, for the purposes of this site, a fun example and a somewhat confusing read.

Anonymous said...

It was my understanding that when you use the word that to describe what someone said, you don't use quotation marks because the word that implies you are going to start paraphrasing instead of quoting.

Al Gore said "I feel honored".
Al Gore said that he feels honored.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the quote-within-a-quote, perhaps during the interview Mr. Gore used "air quotes" when he said those words!

Thumper said...

I also sent it in. I understand how the headline is grammatically correct (now) but still think it's an odd read (especially as someone who visits this blog often).