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ARSCLIST  July 2007

ARSCLIST July 2007

Subject:

Re: quotation marks in lists?

From:

Trey Bunn <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 21:09:50 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (97 lines)

Thanks for your input, everyone.  I knew about song titles being put  
in quotes (and albums in italics); my question was whether or not it  
was right to do so in a numbered list.  It looks clunky and  
unreasonable, plus it hits too close to one of my pet peeves: the  
overuse of quotation marks.  You know, like when you go to the  
grocery store and the sign says, TODAY'S "SPECIAL": BOILED PIG'S BUTT  
-- "FRESH!"

But really, the bottom line here is if my supervisor wants it done  
that way, then that's how it will be done.  I was hoping to be able  
to counter her with something I might find (from you guys or  
elsewhere) saying that such a practice was incorrect, but I never  
really did.  In fact, the quotations might not be so bad in a track  
listing considering that some of the tracks aren't in fact songs or  
don't have titles, such as in this excerpt:

	1. introduction and short bios of J.C. Brock and Maurice Langley
	2. Garfield’s March
	3. untitled song Brock’s grandfather used to play
	4. Little Birdie
	5. June Rose Waltz
	6. Farewell to Trion

So I don't know.  It seems like it's a toss-up, one that will  
probably have to bow to authority (or "we've always done it this way").

In case anyone is interested, Steve Green of the Western Folklife  
Center emailed me off-list and had much to say about this, and he  
gave me permission to repost to the list:

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>
Your question is interesting to me as I've been compiling various  
kinds of lists of folk music  titles (especially fiddle tunes) for  
many years and I've had questions too about how best to present  
things. I hate to say it but I DO often use quotation marks, for a  
couple of reasons, though I'll be the first to admit that nailing  
down hard and fast guidelines can be a little tricky. When entering  
titles directly into a database you have to know whether the quotes  
are going to affect any searching and sorting aspects. In a typed or  
word processed document (like a typical finding aid), I think the  
quotes convey something specific.

But first it's good to think about where titles can come from:

spoken by the performer
spoken by someone other than the performer but heard on the recording
not spoken on the recording but found on accompanying documentation  
(tape box, lists, etc.)
not spoken on the recording and not found on any documentation but  
perhaps known to the person compiling the finding aid (for instance,  
you recognize the tune as "Ragtime Annie" even though it's not listed  
as that anywhere)

I like to try and make a distinction between titles that are actually  
provided by the performer and those that are supplied by a third  
party including the archivist.

An approach I've used at various times is to place in quotes titles  
that are actually spoken or written down by the performer. Use no  
quotes if the title comes from some kind of written documentation  
that is directly linked to the recording (perhaps a box list or  
fieldworker's field notes). Use square brackets to indicate titles  
that have been supplied by the compiler from some other unidentified  
source (including personal knowledge).

I'm sure you're aware that different fiddlers have different names  
for more or less the same tune. By using quotes, the user of the  
finding aid can see that the given title derives from the performer  
directly—it's what they called the tune. Titles in brackets show that  
the archivist or someone else knew what the tune was (or thought they  
did) and added it.

So to answer your question, punctuation can actually convey  
information about where the title came from. Using no punctuation at  
all leaves the user of the finding aid trying to figure out if the  
title came from the archivist or the performer. I realize that  
incorporating punctuation into a computer-based finding aid may have  
unintended consequences when it comes to searching and sorting—not to  
mention that you may have to go back and add those quotation marks,  
as you said.

I don't have any hard and fast rules that I follow—I see it more as a  
desirable convention, but unless you explain the system to users in a  
headnote, the subtle meaning of the various quotes and brackets may  
not come across.

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>




----------------
Trey Bunn
Folklife Archivist
Alabama Department of Archives and History
Montgomery, AL

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