Guillemets (//, also UK: //, US: / /( ) ,, French: [ɡijmɛ]), angle quotes, are a pair of punctuation marks in the form of sideways double chevrons (« and »), used as quotation marks in a number of languages. Sometimes a single guillemet (‹ or ›) is used for another purpose. They are not conventionally used in the English language.
Guillemets may also be called angle, Latin, or French quotes / quotation marks. Unicode exists for single and double guillemets.
Guillemet is a diminutive of the French name Guillaume (equivalent to English William), apparently after the French printer and punchcutter Guillaume Le Bé (1525–98), though he did not invent the symbols: they first appear in a 1527 book printed by Josse Bade. Some languages derive their word for guillemets analogously: the Irish term is Liamóg, from Liam 'William' and a diminutive suffix.
Guillemets are used pointing outwards («like this») to indicate speech in these languages and regions:
- Azerbaijani (used alongside "...")
- Bulgarian (rarely used; „...“ is official, but "..." prevails)
- Chinese (《 and 》 are used to indicate a book or album title)
- Esperanto (usage varies)
- Estonian (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- French (spaced out by non-breaking spaces « like this », except in Switzerland)
- Iowans make use of the guillemet when quoting text that also contains a quote, especially in the Des Moines metropolitan region. E.g. « The governor answered "I am thankful for those Iowans who have stepped forward to serve their fellow citizens." ». This practice – a local shibboleth – is a variation of the French usage and dates back to use by the newspaper Iowa Star (now the Des Moines Register).
- Japanese (《 and 》 are used to indicate a book or album title)
- North Korean (in South Korea " is used)
- Polish (acceptable and defined to indicate a quote inside a quote by some language standards, but less common. See also: Polish orthography)
- Portuguese (used mostly in European Portuguese, due to its presence in typical computer keyboards; considered obsolete in Brazilian Portuguese)
- Romanian; only to indicate a quotation within a quotation
- Russian, and some languages of the former Soviet Union using Cyrillic script („...“ is also used for nested quotes and in hand-written text.)
- Spanish (uncommon in daily usage, but commonly used in publishing)
- Swiss languages
Guillemets are used pointing inwards (»like this«) to indicate speech in these languages:
- Croatian (marked usage; „...” prevails)
- Czech (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Danish („...“ is also used)
- Esperanto (very uncommon)
- German (except in Switzerland; preferred for printed matters; „...“ is preferred in handwriting)
- Hungarian (only used „inside a section »as a secondary quote« marked by the usual quotes“ like this)
- Polish (used to indicate a quote inside a quote as defined by dictionaries; more common usage in practice. See also: Polish orthography)
- Serbian (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Slovak (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Slovene („...“ and "..." also used)
- Swedish (this and »...» are rarely used; ”...” is the common and correct form)
Guillemets are used pointing right (»like this») to indicate speech in these languages:
Macintosh users can together press ⌥ Opt+\ to type "«" and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+\ to type "»" - also, ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+3 to type "‹" and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+4 to type "›". This applies to all English-language keyboard layouts supplied with the Apple operating system, e.g. "Australian", "British", "Canadian", "Irish", "Irish Extended", "U.S." and "U.S. Extended". Other language layouts may differ. In French-language keyboard layouts ⌥ Opt+7 and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+7 can be used. On Norwegian keyboards, ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+v for "«", and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+b for "»", can be used.
For users of Unix-like operating systems running the X Window System, creation of the guillemet depends on a number of factors including the keyboard layout that is in effect. For example, with US International Keyboard layout selected a user would type Alt Gr+[ for "«" and Alt Gr+] for "»". On some configurations they can be written by typing "«" as Alt Gr+z and "»" as Alt Gr+x. These characters are standard on French Canadian keyboards and some others. With the compose key, press Compose+<+< and Compose+>+> and press Compose+.+< and Compose+.+>.
|«||Alt + 0171|
|»||Alt + 0187|
|‹||Alt + 0139|
|›||Alt + 0155|
|Unicode||Windows code pages||Character entity reference||Compose key|
|«||LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+00AB||0171||AB||171||«||Compose+<+<|
|‹||SINGLE LEFT-POINTING ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+2039||8249||8B||139||‹||Compose+.+<|
|»||RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+00BB||0187||BB||187||»||Compose+>+>|
|›||SINGLE RIGHT-POINTING ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+203A||8250||9B||155||›||Compose+.+>|
Despite their names, the characters are mirrored when used in right-to-left contexts.
Double guillemets are present also in several of ISO 8859 code pages (namely: -1, -7, -8, -9, -13, -15, -16) on the same code points.
Microsoft Word uses guillemets when creating mail merges. Microsoft use these punctuation marks to denote a mail merge "field", such as «Title», «AddressBlock» or «GreetingLine». Then on the final printout, the guillemet-marked tags are replaced by the corresponding data outlined for that field by the user.
Guillemet vs. guillemot
In Adobe Systems font software, its file format specifications, and in all fonts derived from these that contain the characters, the word is incorrectly spelled "guillemot" (a malapropism: guillemot is actually a species of seabird) in the names of the two glyphs: guillemotleft and guillemotright. Adobe acknowledges the error.
Likewise, X11 mistakenly calls them "XK_guillemotleft" and "XK_guillemotright" in the file keysymdef.h.
- "guillemet". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
- "Guillemet". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
- "guillemet". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
- "Guillemet". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
- Character design standards – Punctuation 1
- decodeunicode.org . decode . LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
- Trésor de la langue française informatisé – guillemet
- Adobe Systems Inc. (1999). PostScript Language Reference: The Red Book (3rd ed.). Addison Wesley. Character set endnote 3, page 783. ISBN 978-0-201-37922-8. OCLC 40927139.
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