BBC and Quotation Marks

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Slava
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BBC and Quotation Marks

Postby Slava » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:54 am

Here in the US, quotation marks that aren't around actual quotations are often called "scare quotes." Does anyone out there know what the Beeb means when it uses them?

Take, for instance, this:
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders agree a truce to try to end the "bloodshed" of the last two days.
Some twenty-five people died. Doesn't that count as bloodshed? The way I read this sentence is that the fact of bloodshed is being questioned. Is there a BBC usage of quotation marks I don't recognize?

I'm asking about the BBC specifically because I also read some other UK sites, and they don't use "" this way.
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Re: BBC and Quotation Marks

Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:13 am

I found this
"Quotation or double speech marks/inverted commas
"1.Used to show spoken words.
"2.Used around odd or unusual terms, jargon or slang.
"3.Used around titles when italics are unavailable"

here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/engli ... evision/5/

I infer the writer considered usage 1. or 2. to apply to "bloodshed." If 1., used by whom? Shouldn't we have an attribution somewhere near at hand? If 2. shouldn't the writer find a more appropriate term?

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Slava
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Re: BBC and Quotation Marks

Postby Slava » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:31 am

I agree 100%. Not one of the proposed usages fits, so why are the "" there?
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Re: BBC and Quotation Marks

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:16 pm

Perhaps it is the equivalent of "alleged."News sources these days tend to sprinkle their articles especially when referring to a criminal act, as in the alleged shooter, or the alleged thief. Apparently they would rather cover themselves than to make a forceful statement.
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Re: BBC and Quotation Marks

Postby Slava » Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:05 am

That's a headline on the Beeb today. I thought I'd resurrect this topic, to see what any of our non-American English speakers make of it. To me, putting works in quotes makes it a "yeah, right," "as if," "not really" statement.
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bnjtokyo
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Re: BBC and Quotation Marks

Postby bnjtokyo » Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:21 am

In this case, I think definitions 1& 2 apply (repeated here for reference):
1.Used to show spoken words
2.Used around odd or unusual terms, jargon or slang.

Looking at the linked linked by the BBC, we find the following:
"Will the vaccines work against the new variant?" (Headline)
"even though part of the spike has mutated, the vaccines should still work." (in the article)
So definition 1 applies

I do not think "work" is a term of art in the field of vaccine development.
In the linked article, the term "vaccine escape" appears three times. This term would appear to define what would be necessary to the vaccine to cease "to work"

In an article in Nature we find some other terms that are, I think, relevant.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00031-0
Here it is stated that a vaccine may be "compromised,"
that the mutations may "diminish" the potency of the vaccines
that the "effectiveness" of the vaccines may be "diminished"
that the "mutation shared by both variants did not alter the activity of antibodies produced by people who received a vaccine"
that the "{mutatant] variants could weaken immune responses triggered by vaccines"
that "the [research] team found little difference in the potency of antibodies generated by 20 participants against viruses carrying the N501Y mutation, compared with viruses lacking the change."
that "the 501Y mutation, at least, did not drastically affect the activity of neutralizing antibodies in convalescent serum"
that " the 501Y mutation is unlikely to alter immunity"

The phases quoted above focus on identifying reasons why the vaccine might "not work" and the BBC by using "work" (in quotes) is their attempt to show their story summaries their understanding of all of this evidence against a worrisome "immune escape" by the mutant variant.

Finally the following comment "Moderna . . . which has developed an RNA-based vaccine, has said that it expect its jabs to work against the UK variant" uses some informal language ("jabs")and leads us back to the idea that the quotes in the BBC piece are a direct quotation of someone.


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