Monday, July 21, 2008

Quotey Fingers

The other day I was writing an e-mail to a friend of mine, ribbing him about his new 'working at home' gig, and during my bashing I wrote something along of lines of "oh yeah, all that (quotey fingers) WORK that you do, doing all that (quotey fingers) WORKING." We all know what 'quotey fingers' means, it's that two fingered gesture one makes when stressing a point in a sarcastic tone. The late George Carlin even listed individuals using this gesture as "people he could do without." Anyway, I was trying to be funny by actually spelling out quotey fingers instead of just putting the text in quotes like normal people do, the humor being that not only was it an extra 17 characters of typing rather than just hitting ", but it forced the visual image of me actually making the finger gesture, while reading it in text form. It was only after thinking about the whole thing in greater detail (because, well... that's just what I do) that I realized the real absurdity of the whole quotey fingers phenomenon. Consider this:
If one wanted to determine the origin of using quotes to sarcastically stress a point (if one was, say, really really bored), then one could argue it started as a verbal method of slowing down and stressing a word or phrase to suggest an opposite meaning. "Oh, yeah, they went back to his place for CAWFFEEEEEE" suggests they were not, in fact, drinking coffee. This evolved into quotation marks when in written form in order to stress the point: "...and afterwards I'm sure they "went to sleep"" implies no sleep was had.
Then, not convinced the sarcastic tone of the spoken word was enough, people started supplementing the tone with using their fingers to mimic quotation marks above their heads, placing virtual punctuation around the phrase needing emphasis, hoping that will drive home the bitter sarcasm they were trying to get across. What resulted was essentially a redundant gesture, because it came from a written translation of a particular way of speaking. It's no different than asking a question (complete with raising the pitch on the last syllable, the tonal cue of a query) and squiggling your hand around in the shape of a question mark at the end. Yeah, we get it, it's a question, the fact that your pitched changed at the end gave it away, we didn't need the visual.

And that, my friends, is where my humor comes in. Writing "quotey fingers", the spelling out of a hand gesture derived from the written punctuation referring to a tonal difference of a spoken phrase meant to display sarcasm, is damned funny to me.

Yeah, sometimes even I worry about myself.