Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Places To Find Quotations On The Web

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'Think & Roll Famous Quotes 01' photo (c) 2009, paperfreakette - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I periodically look for quotations — for articles, posters, etc.  I get pretty frustrated by most of the online quotation sites because they often don’t provide the source for the quotes, nor any information about the person who supposedly said the quote.

I’ve searched and searched, and I still I’ve only found four sites that consistently provide sources for quotes and have a decent searchable database. I do have to say, though, that one way I’ve recently discovered to get around this problem is by pasting the quote in the query box at Google Book Search. Often, that will bring me to the primary source. (Can’t Confirm That Quotation? Search Google Books is from Mind Shift.)

The importance of this kind of accurate “sourcing” has been highlighted by the attention paid to the mistakes made on the new Martin Luther Kind Memorial in Washington, D.C. I thought I’d bring together a few articles about those problems. They include:

The Effect Of An Absent Clause On Dr. King’s Cause is from NPR.

Martin Luther King a drum major? If you say so. is from The Washington Post.

Coincidentally, The New York Times ran a column about the same problem, even though it wasn’t related to King — Falser Words Were Never Spoken.

Famous Quotes That Were Never Said is a LIFE slideshow.

‘Beam Us Up, Mr. Scott!’: Why Misquotations Catch On is from The Atlantic.

This is an extremely short “The Best…” list.

My choices for The Best Places To Find Quotations On The Web are:

Quotations Book

Wikiquote

Lit Quotes

Quote Snack (This is a blog. It doesn’t seem to have a complete “search” system in place, but it does have a “tag cloud” you can use).

Another site that deserves an “honorable mention” is called Quotes.net. It doesn’t provide the sources for their quotes, but it does have two other neat capabilities that could be helpful to English Language Learners — it provides audio support for the text, so that users can hear the words; and it provides the option of translating the quotes into many different languages.

iWise is another site that doesn’t meet my criteria, but the fact it offers audio support for the text is a real plus.

Finally, even though the listed sites don’t meet my criteria, you might want to look at the exhaustive list of quote resources that Presentation Zen has at Where to get quotations for presentations? (the post is about three years old, though, so there might be a fair amount of dead links).

Tara Benwell lets me know that The English Club has a quotes section designed for English Language Learners. It’s in its beginning stages now, but will be expanding.

Famous Last Words is a LIFE slideshow.

Quote Investigator is a blog that…investigates if well-known quotations are accurately sourced.

I’ve already mentioned my “beef” with most of the quotation sites on the Web because they don’t include the source of the quotes. That said, a new site called QuoteCoil now appears to be just about the largest site on the Web to find quotations. Though the quotes don’t include sources, it still might be worth starting there just because it’s so easy. Then you can use the ways I’ve already mentioned to track down if quotations are accurate…

Dictionary.com has a great Quotes feature where you can search for quotations. What makes it stand-out from so many other quotation pages on the Web is that it provides detailed attribution for each one.

The 10 best last lines – in pictures is a slideshow from The Guardian.

Reel Life Wisdom is a “movie quote directory.”

TED has begun a new searchable feature called TED Quotes. They highlight great quotes from their TED Talks, and they link back to the presentation.

Changemakrs is a new site that lets you create nice visual online posters with famous quotes. It’s still “invitation-only” to be able to register and create them, but anyone can see the ones already made and tweet them or post them to Pinterest. I requested an invitation, so don’t know yet how easy it is to create ones, but I assume it’s simple. There’s one big problem, though — the quotations don’t seem to cite sources. So I’d double check them before using any…

Quotesome is a new useful site. The quotes have links to their sources, you can search by topic or person, and you can add your own.

Findings is a web tool that, once you install a bookmarklet, lets you highlight and save quotations and their sources. Even more importantly, you can search for ones that others have saved even if you haven’t registered. You can turn them into visually attractive quotes that can be shared on social media, though it doesn’t seem that you can take them directly from the site and embed them elsewhere (however, you can, for example, embed the tweet you send of it.

Any additional suggestions are welcome!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

7 Comments

  1. I like Positive Press for quotes. You can also sign up to receive a positive quote of the day.
    http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/quote-of-the-day.html

  2. Hi Larry,

    Great post, Larry! I love quotes! I collect them on the inside covers of my notebooks. Have been doing this for about ten years now and I love hunting through old journals to find the perfect quote from my personal library.
    EnglishClub.com has recently added a quotes section in the English Language Reference section of the site. The quote selection in EC’s reference section is small at the moment but will grow in time. Josef Essberger is taking great care to organize the quotes by topic. He includes info related to the source and writer as well as helpful vocabulary for learners. For example: http://www.englishclub.com/ref/esl/Quotes/Last_Words/Yes_I_d_like_a_bulletproof_vest._2723.htm
    Though it is still in its infant stage I am excited about the future of this section! Eventually it will be offered as “Quote of the Day” like the other popular choices such as “Idiom of the Day”.

    Cheers,
    Tara

  3. Thank you for including my site, QuoteSnack, in your list. I personally track down the original published source of every quote. Seeing where it appeared in a book of quotes is not enough. If I find it quoted by another author, I have to also find confirmation of that author’s source – footnotes are a treasure. I love the way the language of a phrase can jump the skids and work when applied to personal situations, but I feel cheated when I can’t also see what was going on in the author’s next sentence.

    There is so much I want to do with that site!

  4. Excellent articles and strong selections for finding appropriate quotations!

    As a longtime collector of quotations, I’m hopeful that this “drum major for justice” faux pas will lead to more careful citing and editing. We can also hope. The Washington Post piece might make it’s way into an editing workshop.

    By the way, the commercial website “Think Exist” has a large, rich and diverse quotation selection too. Like many of the more open directories and websites, it can sometimes confuse the significant and the trivial, but I’ve found it an excellent starting point when looking for quotations on a topic. You still need to confirm the information again – but it at least includes the birth dates, occupations, and often the original source. I found it helpful in creating class lessons where I’m trying to show a wide range of perspectives on a familiar topic. As always, use or lose.

    Thank you, again, for today’s blog posting.

  5. If you’re interested in original quotations, I’m the author of two books, WHICH IS MORE ROUND, THE WORLD OR YOUR TUMMY?: OFFBEAT REFLECTIONS ON SERIOUS LIVING and MY THOUGHTS PREFER SIDE STREETS: COLLECTED ESSAYS AND OTHER REFLECTIONS, that contain many on a variety of subjects:

    http://www.amazon.com/Leslie-Miklosy/e/B005EA2KJA

    A small review of MY THOUGHTS PREFER SIDE STREETS by a bookstore owner:

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1536P2X0A0T6H

    Cheers,

    Mr. Leslie Miklosy

  6. One of my favorite sites for motivational quotes is http://mstrive.com

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