Please stop using quote marks for emphasis.

It makes you look dumb.

Thank you for this “new” phenomenon. I’m sure I will “enjoy” it thoroughly.


Reminds me of a new sign over a bench outside my local grocery store:

Yes it actually says “destinated”.


You know who does this? The BBC news page, of all things.

Here’s some there right now (1:30 pm EDT):

*Two arrested over ‘NY bomb plot’

Iran reformist’s car ‘fired on’

3D TV to be ‘saviour’ of industry*

So…is there some doubt the reformer’s car got fired on or what? It’s very very “jarring”.

Actually, “complaining” about it makes you look dumb.

I have to admit, this has bugged me for a long time.
One reason is that I don’t associate things in quotation marks with emphasis – I’m more familiar with them indicating that the thing in quotes is allegedly whatever the name says.
*Yes, that incredibly sexy woman who lives in her own room in my house is the “maid”. *

Now go to the OP’s link and read “allegedly” before everything in quotes:
– (Allegedly) Lowest Prices in the (alleged) area!
– Clarington Toyata is expanding its (alleged) Sales Force
– (Alleged) Storage
– Non-Fat (Allegedy) Organic Milk
– Don’s Lunch: Home of the (Alleged) Big One

and so on.

Unless the reporter was using someone elses’ words for the description in his story, then the quotation marks are correct.

Actually, yes, at least at the time when the article was written, there was some doubt. In the case of the Iran reformist’s car, the only information the BBC has is that his own website alleges someone has shot at him. Without further corroboration, I’d call that both a quote and an allegation, not something a serious news organisation can state as fact.

In the first sentence about the “NY bomb plot”, it points out that it’s an “alleged plot to bomb New York City”. They’re not even on trial yet. Innocent until proven guilty, at all?

And finally, on a quick scan through the article about 3DTV, it seems that they’ve collated all the industry opinions and sales hype and chosen the word which they think sums up what all those people really meant, but it’s not the editorial opinion of the BBC, or at least not the one they want to tell people, so they’ve put it in quotation marks to indicate that it’s someone else’s opinion.

None of your examples are being used for emphasis. So… in a thread about looking dumb…

That’s what I was going to say. Those headlines sound like they are incorporating the quotations or characterizations of others. That would be standard usage.

I used to be a typographer, and this practice bugs me as much wrong apostrophes and cutesy spelling.

Drive’s me “Kray-Z.”

No, it makes me look like a tedious shitpicker. Completely different thing.

In this case there’s a partial excuse – headlines often use quotation marks to indicate “Somebody calls it/them this, but we’re distancing ourselves from it.” Was it really a bomb plot, were the car really fired on, will 3D actually be savior of the TV industry? We don’t know, but somebody claims so.

An early use of this was in my childhood, when headlines would read, e.g., ‘Students’ riot in Timbuktu – the point being that the rioters were termed students by some source but did not match our conception of what college students (at that time) behaved like.

Aha, I see. It just looked weird to me.

My daughter’s preschool newsletter (a hotbed of unnecessary quotes) said that the January bake sale will be hosted by teacher “Rita”. I thought, why does one of their teachers use an alias?

I was wondering how those people get the impression that quotes denote emphasis. But then how do we learn that they are used for allegation and distancing, and which is really correct? Neither are the real grammatical purpose of quotes, it’s more of a convention. So is one or the other officially correct, or is it more about which perception is in the majority?

Yeah, those are called ‘scare’ quotes. They’re a refinement of regular quotes, with the implication of “we’re just quoting what someone else said, but we don’t really believe it”.

The problem is, people are using quotes to indicate emphasis, and we are interpreting the emphasized text as it it were in scare quotes, which often reverses the intended emotional subtext.

“Allegedly” indeed! I’ll have to remember that.

What’s funny is one of those signs is from a dining hall at my university, and another item from this website (that I saw months ago, so it should be a few pages back by now) is from the company I work for.

“I” think that YOU are overreacting.