Style of Email Quoting

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Sat May 5 17:15:09 UTC 2001

I've always assumed that the quoting in email like below was an Internet-age thing:

>They've also recreated history to make Tamerlane, a nasty piece
>of work, into a benevolent folk hero.  There's a museum in Tashkent. Has
>he reported from there?

That is, with the greater-than sign (or waka, as I read the other day) or other
unlikely punctuation to the left of the quoted text to set it off in mail readers where
tabs, color, italics or other stylistic indications of quoted text might be stripped

But in researching a paper on the late days of the 1848 French Revolution, I find
this in a French newspaper, L'Illustration ("Journal Universel."), 16 June 1849, page
259, first column, sixth and seventh paragraphs. Original line-breaks preserved.

[...]Ce journal
n'a que trop réussi, et tout le monde a compris où le coup
portait et d'où il partait. C'est pour cela que nous lui accor-
dons l'enregistrement a tire de document sur la situation:

  «La majorité de l'Assemblée, qu'elle nous permette de lui
»dire, nous semblerait bien naïve si, dans les circonstances
»graves et difficiles où nous sommes, [italic]elle laissait le ministère
»de l'intérieur dans les mains faibles et équivoques où il se
»trouve en ce moment[italic]. L'audace de mauvais goût qu'ont dé-
»ployée aujourd'hui certains orateurs de la Montagne [...]

It goes on for a bit more. So the small question: what is the history of this kind
of use of punctuation? I don't think this is a typical use for printed matter, though
I seem to recall something like this in law documents (of which, fortunately, I've
seen few).

Grant Barrett
New York loves you back.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list