Field of Science

The toughest cop "alive"

At little while back, while walking down the street and minding my own business, I saw the following advertisement:

This looks like a scare quote; the implication is that Ace Ticket is nowhere near the best, that it is absurd to suggest that it is the best, which, I assume, is not what they were trying to convey.

One of my colleagues -- yes, I did send this around -- suggested that perhaps Ace Ticket hoped we would read this as a direct quote: somebody has called them the best, and they are quoting. The BBC, apparently, does this regularly. For instance, here's a recent article headline: Families tell of their fears for Syria's 'disappeared'.

I'm not a prescriptivist. But this is confusing. I can't tell, from the article, who the BBC is quoting, especially since the term "disappeared", used to mean "abducted or killed", is now standard usage.

It seems I'm not the only one confused. Buzzfeed has a list of "the worst of unnecessary quotation marks", most of which are unintended scare quotes (the tagline: These aren't just "unnecessary," they're "incomprehensible."). For example:

You can find the rest of the Buzzfeed list here.

Someone in the comments brought the World's Most Interesting Man into the mix (I can only hope this starts a meme):

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