It irritates me when I hear a layperson say a particular phrase. But it really gets on my nerve when someone who speaks for a living says it. A professional should know better than to use this spoken phrase but I still hear it all…the…time. The phrase that peeves me to hear is “quote unquote.”
To be clear, I have no problem with people quoting others. It’s the spoken construction of the quote that bothers me. When someone speaks the words “quote unquote” followed by the quotation, it’s confusing and makes the speaker sound dimwitted.
The spoken words “quote” and “unquote” should be used the same way quotation marks are used in writing. When you write a quotation, you write the open quote character followed by the quotation and then end with the close quote character. That way, the reader knows the words between the quotation marks are a direct quote.
But you would never write the open quote character followed immediately by the close quote character then write the quotation. If you did, it would look like the way I intentionally titled this blog as an example of what not to do. The way I titled this blog is confusing and makes me appear to be dimwitted. Instead, you would write the open quote character followed immediately by the quotation then write the close quote character at the end of the quote. It would look like this: My “pet peeve.”
Speaking a quotation should work the same way. Say “quote” in place of the written open quote character, state the quotation, then say “unquote” in place of the close quote character. For example, the correct way to speak the title of this blog would be “my quote pet peeve unquote.”
Of course, you don’t always have to say “unquote.” If it’s clear from the context of the quotation where it ends or if you stop speaking at the end of the quotation, you can drop the word “unquote” from the end of the quotation. But you should always precede a spoken quotation with just the one word “quote.” That’s all it takes to make me unpeeved.