Have a look at these bags of planting mix. Organic or just pretending to be organic?
My understanding of quotation marks around a noun means to be wary of the genuineness of the thing named. It implies irony in the use of the marked word.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online says:
We also use single quotation marks to draw attention to a word. We can use quotation marks in this way when we want to question the exact meaning of the word:
I am very disappointed by his 'apology'. I don't think he means it.
NEW 'WAR' OVER NORTH SEA FISHING PLANSThis Washington State University site on American usage discusses the same sort of thing I've noticed on the bag of planting mix:
There are many ways to go wrong with quotation marks. They are often used ironically:
She ran around with a bunch of "intellectuals."
The quotation marks around "intellectuals" indicate that the writer believes that these are in fact so-called intellectuals, not really intellectuals at all. The ironic use of quotation marks is very much overdone, and is usually a sign of laziness indicating that the writer has not bothered to find the precise word or expression necessary.
Advertisers unfortunately tend to use quotation marks merely for emphasis:
59 CENTS A POUND
The influence of the more common ironic usage tends to make the reader question whether these tomatoes are really fresh. Underlining, bold lettering, all caps - there are several less ambiguous ways to emphasise words than placing them between quotation marks.I managed to overcome my initial reaction to this strange punctuation, and bought the product to plant my nice new Jonathan apple in enriched soil.