Are air quotes international, or localized?
December 12, 2012 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Do Francophones (or other users of non-English quotation marks) use “air quotes”?

If so, is it the anglais rabbit ears of forced irony, or a gesture resembling «guillemets»?
posted by zamboni to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
In Georgian they are referred to as ბრჭყალები or claws. I have not had the occasion to observe air claws though.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:06 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, though it may just be an Anglo influence. We just use the two-finger claw, though now I want to make up a special guillemets move!
posted by third word on a random page at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did a fair amount of research* on this in Japan and couldn't find a gesture for quotes or corner brackets.

*Not scientific research. Just asking a dozen native Japanese in various social situations if they had a translation for "air quotes". Yes, I'm that weird foreigner.
posted by Ookseer at 1:54 PM on December 12, 2012

Most of the native Spanish speakers I know use them, but they have all (for the most part) been living in the US for many years and it could just be Anglo influence. (And ditto to third word; it's just the two-finger claw I've observed even though they also use angle quotes.)
posted by pitrified at 2:04 PM on December 12, 2012

On the radio I often hear "entre guillemets" and in my mind I see the speaker making the gesture.
posted by bwonder2 at 12:46 AM on December 13, 2012

My perspective is a bit different since I live in a sort of non-media bubble, but I do work in a Big Huge French IT Company and cross people from all walks of life in my job. Emphasis on French company by the way, even when I worked for Airline With Country Name in it, I only ever spoke English on the phone with anglophone and non-francophone airline partners. Never with French colleagues. Even anglicisms are few and far between.

People don't use "entre guillemets" in everday speech, nor have I ever witnessed the gesture in person. They do, however, very often say "soi-disant" which translates as "so-called". Puts across essentially the same sentiment. That and the interjection "n'importe quoi !" ("whatever/nonsense!"), although it's a bit stronger/not-so-subtle.

For instance:
"Il m'a envoyé son soi-disant compte-rendu de réunion."
"Il m'a envoyé son compte-rendu de réunion. C'est n'importe quoi."
posted by fraula at 2:08 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Never saw it used in France (Austin Powers could have made the gesture popular here but somehow did not).
posted by elgilito at 5:46 AM on December 13, 2012

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