One of the most misunderstood uses of quotation marks in the English language is that of the “not.” These are also known as “scare quotes”. Many readers assume wrongly that the use of quotation marks around a word or phrase that is not obviously either a quote from someone or the object of the sentence
is in fact just the writers way of emphasizing the phrase.
This is so wrong.
When ” ” appears around a word or phrase, and that phrase is neither the object of the sentence nor a quote, this means that the word or phrase is “not” or “not really” or a joke.
An example: The sentence reads:
“So, the novel has become a sort of “sacred writ” to us, and is thus the only required text for our beginners Druid course.”
What the author is saying here is that the novel is NOT sacred writ. This is a joke. Lighten the hell up.