Quotations: material from other sources

quotation direct speech
part q quote

Encoding of quotations, distinction between use of q and quote, treatment of quotation marks

The TEI quote element is used to encode material which the text identifies as originating outside of itself, or which a speaker within the text identifies as originating outside of his/her current utterance, including proverbs, mottoes, sayings, etc. The quote element should also be used in cases where the text quotes itself.

It may sometimes be necessary to break a single quotation into multiple XML elements to avoid overlap with other XML elements, such as verse lines. To indicate that these multiple elements are really part of the same quotation, you can use the part attribute, or the next and prev attributes, to indicate the connection. We onlyrecommend using the part attribute or the next and prev attributes in cases where the element is artificially broken to avoid overlap, not in cases where a quotation is broken by the text itself. If you are preparing the text for a detailed analysis of quotation (for instance, involving counting the number of quotations present, or assessing their length) you will need to come up with a consistent method of handling these interventions so that you can identify whatever you decide are truly the boundaries of each quotation. Using part may be the most effective method; see Overlapping and fragmented elements.

If the quotation is attributed, you can encode the attribution with bibl (and can group this with the quotation using cit). Even if there is no explicit attribution in the text, you may know the source and wish to note it (for instance, to support analysis of the author’s range of citations). The TEI does not provide a method for doing this, but you can do so in two ways. To link the quote to a list of sources within the file itself, you can make the corresp attribute valid on the quote element, and use it to point to the id of a bibl element inside a listBibl within the hyperDiv. To provide a link to an external list of sources, such as a database or online catalogue, you can make the key attribute valid on the quote element, and use it to encode the ID of the citation in the external source. See examples 1 and 2. (Both options are included in the DTD extensions that accompany this Guide.)

The TEI also makes no provision for indicating whether a given quote is exact or not.

In cases where you are not sure exactly where the quoted material begins or ends, we recommend encoding the minimum text about whose quotedness you are certain. The rationale here is that for most purposes false negatives are less awkward and misleading than false positives; if a user is searching for material within a quotation, he or she is better served by getting only those results which are certain to match the criteria. If precision is essential, you may also use the TEI’s provision for encoding certainty and responsibility, in Chapter 17 of the TEI Guidelines, both in P4 and P5, but for most purposes this encoding is excessive.


Example 1. Quoted material encoded with quote:

If we reflect whether <quote rend="slant(italic)">to be, or not to be</quote>, we are surely lost.

Example 2. Quotations whose status is uncertain should still be encoded with quote:

<p>I then spoke to him plainly, saying <q rend="pre(&ldquo;) post(&rdquo;)">If I were in your shoes, I would not <quote rend="pre(&lsquo;) post(&rsquo;)">taunt the chicken</quote> with such vainglory.</q></p>
even though we have no idea where the phrase “taunt the chicken” comes from. (Note that this usage would need to be carefully distinguished from <gi>gloss</gi> or <gi>term</gi>, which would be appropriate if it seemed that the phrase in question was a technical term rather than a quotation.)