Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Death To Air Quotes

“Air Quotation Marks”

I don’t know who started them, but they won’t go away. Overuse of air quotes is rampant. If they were used when actually quoting someone, it wouldn’t be so bad. But normally they’re used for emphasis. He really [air quotes here] “pissed” me off. What the hell are you quoting pissed for? It’s not a quotation. It certainly isn’t original. It’s not a buzz word or catch phrase. You’re attempting to emphasize a word with sign language. And you’re using the wrong punctuation. It should be italics, or bolding or underlining. Maybe even an ellipsis. But it’s not quotes. So how can you perform proper punctuation visually? Well, you could slant your body to the side every time you speak a word with emphasis for italics. For bolding, puff your cheeks like a blowfish. For underlining, you could drop flat on the ground for titles of books or movies. If that's too physical, carry a stick and place it under your chin every time you underline.

And here’s the anal side of me. If you are going to quote, it’s one quotation mark before the word or phrase (curving counter-clockwise) and another (curving clockwise) at the end. It isn’t a quote during the word, hit upon each syllable. If you’re going to attempt punctuation while speaking, I’d recommend Victor Borge’s phonetic punctuation method, made famous on Sesame Street ® -

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