Jacob J. Walker's Blog

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Quotography: The Scholarship of Quotations

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As I have searched for the terminology that should be used for those who practice scholarship regarding quotes, I was not happy with “quotation scholarship”, so I started to see if there were other terms used.  Three of which I have found are “quotian”, “quotology” and “quotography”.  Of these, I believe “quotography” is the best choice.

First, while the term “quotation scholar” is accurate, it is not widely used, and searching for this term on the Internet, one quickly finds quotations about scholars and scholarship, and also about quotes for loans for scholars.  If it was widely used, or generally recognized by those who specialize in this area, I would think it should be used, but this just isn’t the case.

Next, there is the term “quotian”, but other than Wikiquote using “Wikiquotians” to describe its contributors, the term is not used any place else to mean the same thing (as far as I can see), and even on Wikiquote, there are some who think it should not be used as a term.

“Quotology” and “Quotologist” is more of a contender for describing the scholarship of quotations, as it was coined originally in March 1901, by William S. Walsh, and it has also been used more recently in the book titled Quotology by Willis Goth Regier.  But, there are several reasons to not use this.  Of most importance is the general use of the suffix of “-ology”.  It generally has a connotation of being a science, or of being used in words where people want it to sound like a science.  First, the scholarly study of quotes usually does not use experimentation as a methodology, nor most other methodologies associated with the sciences.     Also, there are so many products and concepts that have misused “-ology” that the term “quotology” almost sounds like it is doing the same thing.

On the other hand “-graphy” is associated with the humanities, and thus is much more compatible with the general methods of this form of scholarship.  Further, the term “quotographer” was used by Ralph Keyes in his book The Quote Verifier, and was even a term that Willis Goth Regier used in his book.  Further, when William S. Marsh coined the term “quotology” in 1901, even he did not especially like the term, as he wrote:

I own that this is a bad attempt at wordcoining; but a brighter mind will some day evolve a word, sadly needed now, which will express neatly what this expresses blunderingly. It will denote that department of literature under which quotable things may be grouped.

As far as general use of terms, the following Google searches of the following terms have the following approximate number of results, which makes it a toss-up between “quotography” and “quotology”:

Search Term Google Google Books Google News Google Scholar
“quotography” 19,100

190

0

1

“quotographer”

622

38

1

3

“quotology”

17,100

801

1

18

“quotologist”

2,180

41

1

2

“quotation scholarship”

179

5

1

1

“quotation scholar”

91

10

1

3

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Written by Jacob Walker

October 21st, 2013 at 1:48 pm

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