European map of quotation marks

Originally published at:


Where in Germany are they/we using »« ?


another fantastic map

Meh. He’s got a thing or two to learn about labeling.


I didn’t know << >> was a thing…

Also, I just read the Complete BRUTE! which is a fantastic collection of awesome art and very short, crude stories from a 'zine in the 80s. They use the single quotes, being from the UK, and it really threw me off at first.

If you’re a fan of gratuitous, over the top sex and violence, or enjoyed BRUTE!'s KMFDM covers, or just weird underground art and text, check it out.


In books.
Ok, most books.
One publisher, Rowohlt, is using «outward pointing» guillemets, not the more common »inward pointing«. ones
I looked at some scanned ex-paper books. Like this:


What’s weird, I took 3 years of German in High School. And we had access to a couple German magazines like Bunte and Stern. And I don’t recall those types of quote marks.


Getting his facts right would be a start. His map says ‘x’ is preferred in UK but “x” in USA.

In his preamble he says this is so in fiction publishing. So this is a map purely about fiction publishing is it? No, apparently not.

I suspect his sample size is small and he has not looked beyond fiction. The use of “x” is still going strong over here. His sweeping generalisation is misleading, to put it politely.


The map is great fun, although a tad less hatching would make it not so buzzy. As a native American English speaker I’m of course only comfortable with “these” quotation marks; even ‘these’ are off-putting. Isn’t it a common practice in French lit to use a long m-dash to introduce dialogue? E.g.:

——Tu es un menteur à deux visages, Jules!

——Si j’avais deux visages, pensez-vous que je choisirais d’utiliser celui-ci, Henri?


Notice the map only mentions (used in print). Spoken punctuation is not covered:


Wait, I have a question now. When doing “air quotes”, do they use just one finger on each hand in the UK?

What about that bracket thingy, how does that work with air quotes?


This is really the elephant in the room—there’s no data and no sources cited as far as I can tell. I don’t doubt the map in broad strokes, but I’m sure there are inaccuracies.

I did appreciate his little joke about Greece.

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When I was in school, we were taught to use “these” quotation marks for quotes and ‘these’ were for quotes within quotes.


My understanding is that, if you’re doing things properly, then you use single quotes. Double quotes are for stuff quoted within a quote: e.g. ‘I shouted “Go away!” at him.’ This seems more logical than the method preferred by our American cousins.

However, I would agree that in practice, especially in things like e-mails and business documents, double-quotes are commonly used as the outermost marks, possibly because single quotes are harder to spot, particularly if they’re the typographically suboptimal straight kind.

Also, the Guardian seems to follow the American practice, at least on its web site.


Maybe this paper is secretly owned by the French.

(oops. It can’t be french. wrong direction. so many subtleties)


I think everyone should standardize on 「 and 」for quotation marks.


Love how Cyprus isn’t treated as its own sovreign nation, but just a subset of Greece / Turkey. Real cool, kids, real cool.

It’s not a political map. It’s a map of regional use of quotation marks. France and Russia are the same color on this map.


In Spain it is recomended we use in the following order (from outside to inside): guillemets, double quotes and single quotes.

But since our keyboards don’t readily have guillemets and most word-processing software doesn’t convert << to «, we usually skip the guillemets and go straight to double quotes unless you need to be absolutely formal (i.e: publishing a book).

Most newspapers (not only El País but, for example, El Diario, Marca…) have switched to double quotes just because it’s easier to type.

So, in short, computer revolution killed the guillemets in spain.


Yes, but the map is super inconsistent with respect to whether a region gets cross-shaded or partitioned. Also, what are the parameters by which that decision is made? I could see an argument for making northern Cyprus red (since it’s de facto a Turkish-only-speaking region), but ROC should probably be crosshatched, since Greek and Turkish (and English, for that matter) are all official languages.

Of course! You’re absolutely right