Quoting the Obvious

After some chatter in my comments (chatter in my comments – is that like a party in my pants?) concerning the erratic and amusing miss-use of quotation marks, I made a discovery in town.

Close to my work I snapped this photo showing the concept in all its glory.


For the Englishophiles, the text basically says:

“Worlds best” sweets!

The idea with these quotation marks is obviously to “tone down” the meaning of the “world’s best” part. As in:

“We are saying ‘World’s best’ but of course we both know that isn’t true, but we’ll say it anyway, for a laugh. And to avoid being sued we’ll just add the quotes. Done!”

But it doesn’t actually “tone down” the meaning of the phrase at all; what it does is to make it completely ironic and have it mean the opposite to what the person is intending.

Hence the hilarity.

Quotes can also be incorrectly and hilariously used to emphasise something. In this case the person is assuming that quotes are the same thing as italics, bold or underline, the more standard ways to emphasise a point in a text. But again, it just makes the whole thing tragically funny.

You want more? YOU WANT MORE?

Well you got it. Here at the wonderful world of unnecessary quotation marks you can lose yourself in examples of missplaced quotes and reversed meanings.

It’s funny; trust me!

/ paddy

11 thoughts on “Quoting the Obvious

  1. Uhm. … I don’t think it’s intended to tone down. I think it’s intended to tone up. I think people use it the way they use bold, italics and underscore, and that they have NO IDEA that quotation marks imply even the slightest bit irony.

    …maybe I just have terribly low expectations on people…

  2. No, I think it’s used it both ways. They obviously know they can’t prove they have the world’s best candy, but they want us to imagine that, well, maybe they do. As in: “Some people think we have the world’s best candy”.

    Of course, it ain’t my language…

  3. I see it as “Haha.. yeah we got the “best candy” either meaning the cashiers boobs, or candy that’s been dropped on the street and then shipped to them at a “fair” price.

    I don’t understand the italics part, but I’m newly awake and therefore stupid right now (yeah, only right now!)

  4. Hahaha, I love that blog you linked to. I’ve heard of “topical niches” but that takes the cake (and I do mean the phrase topical niche to be taken “literally”, I swear!!!).

    As for the sign, maybe I’m a little negative but my interpretation is “Some people think we have the world’s best candy but we know a dirty little secret about the candy and that’s why we got it on for sale so that we can get rid of it fast before the authorities catch on.” Lol. Those dirty Swedish bastards!

  5. When you look at a larger body of misused quotation marks, IMHO it becomes clear that in the minds of shopgirls, they represent italic text.

    Another non-standard usage that is common among shopgirls is sär skrivning. I once read a job ad where a grocery store called for people to join “vårt kassa team”.

    • Heh heh, that’s great, kassa=huge tits in Danish. Must remember that.

      No, it’s just a Swedish pun. “Kassateam” are the employees that take care of the kassor, or checkouts. But “vår kassa team” means “our crappy team”.

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