Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tiny things like context

Does it bother me when people use quotes out of context? Depends. If it's blatantly or harmfully, then yes. Otherwise it depends on the situation. I realize I probably have at least a few quotes on my site that are removed from their original context in a way that changes the meaning. And if I knew exactly which those were I'd correct them right away (which is one reason I'm so grateful to visitors who bring errors to my attention).

I started collecting quotes at age thirteen and in my teens I wasn't always very careful about attributions and context, especially if I was in a hurry to record the quote. And back then I had no idea that later I would be sharing my collection with the world. If I had extra hours in the day I would go back and research all the quotes for accuracy but after collecting obsessively and non-stop for 23 years it might take a lifetime to complete a project like that. For now I'll have to be content with fixing them as I find them, or more likely, as my wonderful visitors find them for me.

Here's an interesting tidbit regarding context:

"It was the tiniest thing I ever decided to put my whole life into." It's probably my most famous quote... but it's not about a baby. I wrote it in my journal when I was 14 years old, and it's about a tiny sick bird I was trying to nurse back to health at the time.

It seems the quote is always used in reference to babies but it doesn't bother me, as it certainly applies quite well to the subject. I think for a while I even moved it onto my baby congrats page because that's how everyone was using it.

Context is always important, but sometimes it's everything and sometimes it can be more flexible. If I intentionally use a quote out of its original context, I make a note in the attribution. For example, on the Arizona page, I have a couple of quotes about the hot weather "here." The authors were not referring to Arizona, but the sentiment applied to our weather as well so after the author's name I noted that.

As always, remember to practice safe and responsible quoting!

"The art of quotation requires more delicacy in the practice than those conceive who can see nothing more in a quotation than an extract." ~Benjamin Disraeli