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Addiction to “Air Quotes”

When a youngish female speaker of American English uses air quotes––i.e., a gesture produced with hands held shoulder-width apart and at the eye level of the speaker, the index and middle fingers on each hand flexing at the beginning and end of the item being quoted–– so frequently as to constitute a verbal TIC, what does that signify?

One could easily interpret this paralinguistic behavior as a species of STAMMERING and thereby subsume it under the general cultural avoidance, especially among the younger generation, of any utterance constituting a straightforward assertion.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

One Response to “Addiction to “Air Quotes””

  • Antmachine says:

    I tend to use “Air Quotes” to draw attention to proper nouns that, in my mind, are giving a bit too much praise to their otherwise mediocre subjects. Such as “Club Presidents” or “Veterans” or “Shopping Center”. I also use it when the word applied doesn’t feel fitting. He was “dancing” around the table, or so he thought. I know it is a quirk of mine, and I try to avoid it; much like stammering.

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