Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Air Quotes" and the English Language

Why do people do "air quotes"? I thought about this as I caught a buddy of mine doing it this morning. I must confess, I have used the "air quotes" liberally over the years. The more I ruminated on the subject the more and more ridiculous it seemed to me. I recall a character of Chris Farley, (God rest his soul) that exaggerated the use of "air quotes" and it was hilarious to me. I despise these motivational speaker types the get up on a stage with their wireless microphones and power point presentations, preaching about the beauty of some multi-level marketing scheme that has made them a millionaire and can change your life too if you just "Believe" dropping the "air quotes" on the frenzied crowd. Yet as I took respite from my attempt to deliver another gem of a submission for your consideration to staff some cases for my real job, I caught myself dropping an "air quote" on my worker. Oh my hell. I am a freakin' idiot! This is insane. I begin to obsess about why people, including myself make this inane gesture. In my insanity I start thinking about the word "air". Air and heir have the same pronunciation. Why isn't it an "heir quote"? I am certain that society inherited this ritual from someone who thought they were being clever.
Suddenly my mind gets held hostage at this question. Why is the English language so confusing? Heir/Air. Are/Our. The letter "R" is commonly used as a substitution for the word "are" in the realm of shorthand texting. Why do we have to spell out W-h-y when a simple letter "y" would suffice? So many words have similar pronunciations yet have different spelling and meaning. Unfortunately my inability to correctly spell the words "pronounce" and "pronunciation" led to the premature death of a really good bit. God bless the spell check feature! I could drudge on with anecdotal observations about a myriad of discrepancies with our beloved language, but I will abstain, you get the point.
In summation, I find myself wondering if I can ever cease the use of what I believe should be an archaic idiosyncrasy, yet is still perpetuated by fools like me. Damn the person that believed it would be "cool" to raise both hands in front of them and use the index and middle fingers to simulate quotation marks. Damn them for passing it on, bestowing it upon the general population. Damn them all to hell!

1 comment:

Boyd said...

Our and Are are not pronounced the same, but I get the point. Our should be pronounced like hour and are like the letter r.