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  • The semantics and pragmatics of quotation ed. by Paul Saka, Michael Johnson
  • Erik Stei
The semantics and pragmatics of quotation. Ed. by Paul Saka and Michael Johnson. Dordrecht: Springer, 2017. Pp. viii, 382. ISBN 9783319687469. $149.99.

The semantics and pragmatics of quotation, edited by Paul Saka and Michael Johnson, is a collection of papers on quotation and quotation-like constructions that forms part of the ‘Perspectives in pragmatics, philosophy & psychology’ series edited by Alessandro Capone. Most papers in the volume offer state-of-the-art research on current debates in the literature on quotation, so the collection will appeal mostly to researchers familiar with the topic. The contributions are organized into three parts (I: ‘Use & mention’, II: ‘Quotation unified’, and III: ‘New directions’), and the papers generally fit those broad categories quite well. In this review, I give only short summaries of the papers in Parts I and III, but I have a bit more to say about the contributions in Part II. [End Page 383]

In his ‘Scare-quoting and incorporation’, Mark McCullagh argues that some cases of scare quotes are best explained by a presemantic mechanism called ‘incorporation’. The basic idea is that when interpreting a sentence, we are sometimes required to switch the lexicon as well as the context midway through the sentence. McCullagh proposes a modification of Kaplan’s (1989) logic of demonstratives that allows for (i) complex contexts, consisting of n-tuples of ordinary Kaplanian contexts, and (ii) different sets of character-specifying lexical axioms. It is not entirely clear why this paper was included in Part I as it does not concern the use-mention distinction.

Saka’s contribution is concerned with the development of a general account of ‘quasi-quotation’ or ‘unquotation’. The phenomenon occurs when an expression inside quotation marks is to be interpreted as not strictly quoted. Typically, but not necessarily, quasi-quotations are marked by devices like squared brackets in academic writing indicating additions or omissions by the reporter of the utterance. Saka delineates quasi-quotation in formal languages and metalanguages. He then identifies and characterizes quasi-quotational devices in natural language and specifies ten rules of quasi-quotation that cover ordinary quotation as a special case.

Marga Reimer focuses on Saul Kripke’s (1980) remarks concerning the confusion of use and mention in ordinary discourse involving proper names and defends them against a number of criticisms. The paper makes some exegetical points, but it also offers an interesting discussion of constructions like ‘The F is called N’ and provides arguments for the view that those have the same meaning as their ‘The F is called “N”’ counterparts.

Shomir Wilson reviews basic techniques of natural language processing and shows how those techniques reach their limits when applied to mentioned language. Wilson’s proposed remedy is a rubric for mentioned language that is to be thought of as an operationalization of human readers’ capacity to ‘intuit the presence of mentioned language in a sentence, even in the absence of stylistic cues’ (88).

Part II, ‘Quotation unified’, starts with Kirk Ludwig and Greg Ray’s ‘Unity in the variety of quotation’. The aim of the paper is to identify a common core of quotational constructions. The idea is that quotation marks are polysemous and that the unifying feature of all uses of quotation marks involving reference to expressions is given by the disquotational rule (Q): for any φ, ‘φ’ refers to φ. Ludwig and Ray argue that direct quotation, mixed quotation, and what they call ‘uses of quotation marks in scholarly exposition’ all involve reference to expressions and, thus, exhibit characteristic features of pure quotation. My only complaint here is that the title of the paper promises too much, as scare quotes, emphatic quotes, and other ‘varieties of quotation’ are set aside from the get-go. The main reason for this decision seems to be that in those uses ‘the word itself in quotation marks is not an object about which the sentence says anything, and is not used in determining whether it is true or false’ (104, n. 5). But this looks like another...


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