I was thinking about the use of scare-quotes in English speech, not the physical gesture so much as the intonation and prosodic features as the word or phrase is used in an oral statement. What label is applied in linguistics to this speech phenomenon where a word is isolated and highlighted to indicate that it is being quoted, or perhaps quoted back at an interlocutor, or that it is being used with some caveat, or advisedly, or in some other special or unusual way?

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    I don't know of any special term for the phonetics involved. In fact, I don't think there is any standard phonetic description of what English speakers say when they would use scare quotes in writing. Myself, I tend to slow down the pronunciation a bit, articulate more carefully than usual, and occasionally flat the intonation. But that's just me.
    – jlawler
    Jun 11, 2018 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


For verbs, under https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrealis_moods we find:

optionally sarcastic admirative

inferential, a.k.a. renarrative, oblique


You could apply dubitative to intonation or punctuation of other parts of speech.

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