Guillemets (//, or //; French: [ɡijmɛ]), also called angle quotes, Latin quotation marks, or French quotation marks, are polylines pointed like arrows (« or »), sometimes forming a complementary set of punctuation marks used as a form of quotation mark.
The symbol at either end—double « and » or single ‹ and ›—is a guillemet. They are used in a number of languages to indicate speech. They resemble the symbols for lesser than (<), greater than (>), and for left and right bit shifts in some programming languages, as well as rewind and fast forward on various media players, such as VCRs, DVD players, and MP3 players.
The word is a diminutive of the French name Guillaume (the equivalent in English being William), after the French printer and punchcutter Guillaume Le Bé (1525–98). Some languages derive their word for guillemets analogously. As examples, the Irish term is Liamóg, from Liam 'William' and a diminutive suffix and, in English, the equivalent term is "Little Willy".
Guillemets are used pointing outwards («like this») to indicate speech in these languages and regions:
- Bulgarian (rarely used; „...“ is official, but "..." prevails)
- Chinese (《 and 》 are used to indicate a book or album title)
- French (separated by non-breaking spaces « like this »), except in Switzerland
- Khmer (Cambodian)
- 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 the main article for details)
- Portuguese (European; now largely replaced by quotation marks)
- 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)
- German (Except in Switzerland. „...“ is more commonly used.)
- Hungarian (only as a secondary quote, inside a section already marked by the usual quotes)
- Polish (used to indicate a quote inside a quote as defined by dictionaries; more common usage in practice. See the main article for details)
- Serbian (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Slovak (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Slovene („...“ and "..." also used)
- Swedish (this and »...» are rarely used; ”...” is the common form)
Guillemets are used pointing right (»like this») to indicate speech in these languages:
A guillemet is sometimes used to indicate direction, for example:
- fast forward button on a media player, or fast rewind indicated by the complementary guillemet
- a chevron on road signage to show road direction, or multiple chevrons pointing in the same direction for emphasis
- as an alternative to an ellipsis in a document, for example to indicate additional content. The guillemet is balanced in the spine height of the line for most fonts, so it is more visible than an ellipsis.
Guillemets in computing
Guillemets are often used on buttons that enable forward and backward navigation across a set of items (for example in VB, MS Access, email clients, article comment sections, etc). Often a guillemet signifies navigation to the first («) or last (») item in a list, while a corresponding single angle (not actually a guillemet) signifies navigation to the previous (<) or next (>) item.
Typing "«" and "»" on computers
|«||Alt + 0171||Alt + 7598||Alt + 174||Alt + 686|
|»||Alt + 0187||Alt + 7599||Alt + 175||Alt + 687|
With a US International Keyboard and corresponding layout, Alt Gr+[ and Alt Gr+] can also be used. The characters are standard on French Canadian keyboards and some others.
Macintosh users can type "«" as ⌥ Opt+\ and "»" as ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+\. (This applies to all English-language keyboard layouts supplied with the 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. With the compose key, press Compose+<+< and Compose+>+>. Additionally with the ibus input method framework enabled, users may enter these characters into those applications that accept it by using Ctrl+⇧ Shift+U followed by their Unicode code points: either AB or BB, respectively.
In Microsoft Office applications, typing the US quotation mark (on the 3 key) will produce either a left Guillemet "«" or right Guillemet "»" based on the spacing.
|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.
Gmail offers an orange guillemet as an optional star that can be applied to messages. Gmail also uses single and double angles to denote messages sent directly to the recipient, although it calls them arrows rather than guillemets.
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.
- MSDN, C++ documentation, Shift Operators: >> and <<
- MSDN, << Operator (C# Reference)
- Character design standards - Punctuation 1
- decodeunicode.org . decode . LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
- "Advanced search". google.com.
- "How can I tell if a message was sent to just me or to a mailing list?". google.com.
- Adobe Systems Inc., PostScript Language Reference 3rd edition, Addison Wesley 1999. ISBN 0-201-37922-8. Character set endnote 3, page 783.
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