Ridiculous Question I Should Have Long Since Learned the Answer To

Say you’re quoting a passage from a text, and within that passage, the author uses a parenthetical citation to refer to another text. Do you:

(a) Quote the passage exactly as printed in the text, including the citation?

(b) Quote the passage without the citation, as though it weren’t there, thus protecting the flow of the author’s writing?

or (c) Quote the passage without the citation, but with an ellipsis in its place?

None of these three options seems quite right to me, and I honestly can’t remember how I’ve resolved this issue in the past. Probably by avoiding it. And none of the online MLA guides I’ve found have any help to offer, so I’m resorting to blegging. Also, apparently, posting a lot today, in a mad effort to keep from feeling as though I’m being radically unproductive.

7 thoughts on “Ridiculous Question I Should Have Long Since Learned the Answer To

  1. Wait — actually, I think I know how I’ve done this in the past. Basically (b), with the addition of something like the following in my own citation:

    (Smith 25, citing Jones 31)

    I have no idea whether that’s right, but I think that’s how I’ve done it.

  2. I tend to avoid doing this, simply because of the complications you list, though sometimes it’s hard to avoid… I’d do a) with the (Smith 25, citing Jones 31) or something like that. Just to confuse you the more.

  3. It is awfully confusing — I got reminded of this yesterday because I was re-reading a section of Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy and transcribing some passages from it, which I think complicate the matter even further. For instance, here’s a representative passage, with the citation included:

    “Because we have by today so deeply interiorized writing, made it so much a part of ourselves, as Plato’s age had not yet made it fully a part of itself (Havelock 1963), we find it difficult to consider writing to be a technology as we commonly assume printing and the computer to be” (Ong 80)

    Now, if I were to quote and cite this passage, it’s extremely unlikely that (Havelock 1963) would ordinarily be among the texts in my works cited, so the reference would lead nowhere. (On top of which, I use MLA in-text citation format, and this is… APA? I think?) So my impulse would be to remove the citation, and change my (Ong 80) to (Ong 80, citing Havelock) and include Havelock in my works cited. But because Ong isn’t directly quoting Havelock, I’m not sure it’s clear what exactly he’s citing him for.

    I think I’m with you, Jill; I try to avoid it whenever I can, because the complications are so great…

  4. Judges have to do this all the time… and if they preserved all the citations, occasionally they would have to write something like (Alice 31, citing Bob 58, citing Cecilia 392, citing YoMaMa 12, citing alkjg 5(a)(1)(III)).

    So Judges usually make sure that the citation is in quotes (or offset when large) and at the end they put “internal footnotes and citations omitted”. Then it’s up to the clerks and law students to track down the chain of citations.

  5. So they’d do that in the context of the citation itself? In this case (Ong 80, internal citation omitted)? That would certainly simplify things…

  6. Yeah… then just concentrate on making sure the quote with the citations omitted reads well in your document (of course, if you get rid of anything else, then break out the ellipses and/or square brackets).

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