Mixed quotation: The grammar of apparently transparent opacity

Emar Maier


The phenomenon of mixed quotation exhibits clear signs of both the apparent transparency of compositional language use and the opacity of pure quotation. I argue that the interpretation of a mixed quotation in- volves the resolution of a metalinguistic presupposition. The leading idea behind my proposal is that a mixed-quoted expression, say, “has an anomalous feature”, means what x referred to with the words ‘has an anomalous feature’. To understand how this solves the paradox, I set up a precise grammatical framework, explicitly connecting various levels of linguistic analysis: phonological forms, categorial syntax, and a dynamic picture of the semantics–pragmatics interface. In this framework I formalize and evaluate a presuppositional account of mixed quotation. Finally, I address the phenomenon of unquotation and argue that it is an essential ingredient for an elegant and empirically adequate analysis of mixed quotation in natural language.


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metalinguistic reference; mixed quotation; unquotation; opacity; compositionality; syntax–semantics interface; presupposition

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.7.7

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ISSN: 1937-8912

Journal doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp