A recent headline:

「レッドブル」飲んだ米国人「死亡報道」で大騒ぎ 日本のまとめサイト「デマ情報」に引っかかり、相次ぎ「謝罪」

Can someone help me understand how this works?

「」=Is this a quotation mark?

I can't understand what modifies what.

4 Answers 4


You really don't want to take writing cues from J-CAST “News”, as it is not exactly a high-quality news source…

If you look at Yomiuri or Asahi headlines, you'll see that they don't abuse the brackets (カギ括弧) in this fashion. Usually in headlines, they are for quotes, or to emphasize an unfamiliar word.

In this case, most of the brackets are seemingly used to highlight keywords, for the clickbait factor. I would say that the only warranted use is 「レッドブル」, because Red Bull is a foreign brand name.

A saner rendition would be something like:

「レッドブル」飲んだ米国人の死亡報道で大騒ぎ デマ情報に引っかかった日本のまとめサイトが相次ぎ謝罪

The brackets around 死亡報道 can maybe be justified too, as a form of “sarcastic quotes”, because the report turned out to be false. In fact, you might even interpret all of the brackets to be sarcastic quotes, because it's “very funny” that this trivial nonsense is masquerading as a “news article”.

  • I chose something like this on purpose because it was weird how there were so many brackets. Do titles usually have a weird grammar in japanese, because in my native language they kinda do
    – Splikie
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 8:46
  • @Splikie You're right, headlines have a particular grammar, but hopefully most of the ones you encounter will be written a little better. Omitting particles shouldn't come at the expense of clarity. It takes getting used to though. Good luck!
    – mirka
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 9:11

It is used for:

Short references (spoken or written)


Emphasizing or pointing out a word/phrase (as Hibiya Ryuto noted)



Denoting titles of books, articles, etc.



「」 is used to emphasize a word in the case.

This is not ordinary usage, but only magazines or newspapers use 「」 for emphasis in the title of articles.


Quotation marks are common even in English to quote tiny paragraphs of text. It often comes off as sarcastic, but usually it's intended to be a single word (or more) quote to validate what's being said.

Take the example from the BBC world news headline today:

"Mali hotel attack: 'No more hostages' after special forces raid".

It's not that "no more hostages" is sarcastic, but just a validation through quotes that it's been confirmed by someone else.

In this case, 「謝罪」validates that 謝罪 was actually said by Redbull, and isn't just the headline inventing a story.

「死亡報道」shows that the name 死亡報道 is unofficial, and just a name given to the event. Much like saying "the so called death reports" (いわゆる「死亡報道」). Or, you could argue that this is a quote as we see above with 謝罪; it's not totally clear what's being intended.

Finally, 「デマ情報」and「レッドブル」have quotation marks because they're the names of a news source and foreign company -- two organization names. It's non-standard Japanese (I don't think any language actually has this as standard usage), but whoever wrote the title had it in mind as a name. Some newspapers in English do this too. Again, from the BBC:

Oregon shooting and the anonymous '4chan' message board

And a Japanese example:


4chan just happens to be an easy example to find.

If talking from a standardized viewpoint, none of these usages are strictly formal Japanese, though I would argue that none of them are wrong per-say (I don't actually know what academics on 国語 have to say on this usage). In fact, as I've made some effort to point out, there's a lot of convergence on how this news source is using 「」and how western news organizations use quotation marks in their headlines and articles.

  • 「4chan」は日本のインターネット掲示板を参考に作られたと言われ、過去にも犯罪の予告に使われています。 as four 4chan, is is sait that it has been created using as reference the japanese internet board, in the past it was used as announcement for crimes. Is my translation correct what does と言われ mean here, does it mean "referred, called as" and refers to 4chan?
    – Splikie
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:18
  • 1
    "「4chan」は日本のインターネット掲示板を参考に作られたと言われ" means " '4chan' is said to have been designed with reference to Japanese internet noticeboards". Internet noticeboards refers to textboards and imageboards in English, but 掲示板 doesn't have this distinction on its own (but you can say 画像掲示板 for imageboard). 言われ is the connecting from of 言われる, meaning "it is said that..."
    – sqrtbottle
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 23:00

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