cries of "Wolf!"


Senior Member
"Because these threats are never carried out, our partners eventually recognize them as cries of “Wolf!” and tune them—and us—out." A. Christensen "Reconcilable differences"

I understand that this is a reference to 'raise a false alarm'? (It is only strange to me why the author uses "Wolf!' in this way (capital letter, inverted commas, exclamation mark).
  • Greyfriar

    Senior Member
    'To cry 'Wolf' comes from an old story about a boy who was always shouting 'Wolf!' while guarding his flock of animals. The people from his village would come rushing to his aid, only to find there was no wolf after all. This happened time and again until the villagers grew sick and tired of it. They decided enough was enough and no longer went to the boy when he gave the familiar cry. Alas (so I believe the story goes) on one occasion there really was a wolf which ate the animals up.

    The author is quite correct in writing "Wolf!" a) because here it is a single word of reported speech and therefore requires a capital letter, b) because written, quoted speech requires inverted commas and c) an exclamation mark because it is a warning cry.
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