The "right" definiution of " 'scare' quotes"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Aug 4 15:33:05 UTC 2000

At 10:35 PM -0400 8/4/00, P2052 at AOL.COM wrote:
>I don't get it.  I've never heard of scare quotes, but I do know that
>quotation marks are used to enclose words used in a special or ironic sense.
>For emphasis, words are rendered in bold print or capital letters, or are
>underlined or italicized (or any combination of the preceding).  In fact,
>almost any unusual presentation of a word will draw attention to it,
>including enclosing it in quotation marks; however, the grammar books/style
>manuals that I've used as a guide do not cite quotation marks as a device for
>emphasizing a word.      P-A-T

They wouldn't mention it (except for purposes of condemnation), any
more than they'd mention putting in apostrophe's [sic] as an
alternate device for indicating plurality.  Both are vernacular
practices, not authorized by prescriptive grammars or attested in
most descriptive ones, but (for better or worse) neither is
particularly rare in the English-speaking (or rather English-writing)


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