Mixed quotation: The grammar of apparently transparent opacity

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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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Emar Maier, University of Groningen

Department of Philosophy