Many readers know that the expression “italics mine” is used in formal writing when the author has added italics to quoted text.  It’s a courteous way to say that the italics weren’t there in the original– courteous to the reader (who might otherwise be confused) and courteous to the original author (who would otherwise be… misquoted).  Some time ago, this phrase began sounding decidedly uncourteous in my mind. I had always heard something like this: “I would like to fulfill my responsibility to inform you that I’ve added these italics.” But suddenly I heard, “I OWN these italics – they’re mine!” And once “italics mine” had revealed this surly potential, I could not go back to thinking of it as its polite and dutiful self.  So now when I’m in a quiet library, I imagine a cacophony of all the instances of “italics mine,” shouting out from within their respective books, competing for ownership of all italics: _Mine! Mine! Mine! _ Above, you have a self-referential example where the italic text asserts possession of itself. ■

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