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Use/mention distinction and quotation

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-X039-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Speakers ‘use’ the expressions they utter and ‘mention’ the individuals they talk about. Connected with the roles of used expressions and mentioned individuals is a way of uniting them and a characteristic mistake involving them. Usually the expression used in an utterance will not be the same as the individual mentioned, but the two can be made to converge. The means is quotation. Quotation is a special usage in which an expression is used to mention itself. A failure to distinguish between the roles of used expressions and mentioned individuals can lead to mistakes. Such mistakes are called use/mention confusions. In themselves use/mention confusions are a minor linguistic faux pas, but under unfavourable conditions, they have the potential to cause greater problems.

Citing this article:
Washington, Corey. Use/mention distinction and quotation, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-X039-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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