"greengrocer's apostrophe" (was Re: Cam(pb)ell)

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Fri Aug 4 14:59:15 UTC 2000

> In a message dated 8/4/2000 10:20:32 AM, laurence.horn at YALE.EDU writes:
> << I don't know ANY label for the
> innovative quotes-for-emphasis Steve mentions, though. >>
> Larry nodded here. The term is SCARE QUOTES--which I'm sure he knows.

I don't think those are scare quotes, though.  To me, scare quotes can be
paraphrased as 'so-called' or 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink'--they indicate
that the writer doesn't really intend the meaning or the attitude implied
by the phrasing.  As in:

Joe loves his "vitamins" but I just hope the cops don't catch him with
those pills.

(I.e., we all know Joe's vitamins are really quaaludes or some such

But what Steve and Larry were talking about was the use of quote marks
for emphasis.  This sign at a library used to drive me crazy (still does
when I think about it):

will be given
for the copy machines

(quote marks as in original)

Here, we don't have the reversal-of-intention indicated by scare quotes.
The quote marks are just used as a kind of underscoring.  I think we did
talk about these once before here and called them 'emphatic quotes' or
some such thing, but they don't seem to have an established name.

Drives me crazy.


Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

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