Could anyone tell me why "action" in this passage is marked with quotation marks?

The origin of the term can be traced to Albert Goldman and a 1964 article he had written in The New Republic titled "Lindy's Law".[6] The term Lindy refers to Lindy's delicatessen in New York, where comedians "foregather every night at Lindy's, where ... they conduct post-mortems on recent show business 'action'". In this article, Goldman describes a folkloric belief among New York City media observers that the amount of material comedians have is constant, and therefore, the frequency of output predicts how long their series will last:[7]


Original article: https://www.gwern.net/docs/statistics/1964-goldman.pdf

1 Answer 1


'action' is in quotes to show that the word action is being used here as a euphemism or in an ironic way, as a stand-in for something else.

This article is written in a strongly stylised way, with the author using the literary tradition of placing selected words in quotes to communicate that they are ironical asides to the audience. Think of it as a speaker who emphasizes a certain word and winks at the audience at the same time.

The quotes indicate that the word is used here with some other meaning, one that is not explicitly found in the text, but that can understood by knowledgeable readers from some wider context.

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