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Quotational Quandary (Posted on 2004-02-16) Difficulty: 2 of 5
We use quotation marks for (among other things) mentioning words. In other words, we quote words in order to indicate that we are talking about the word, phase, or sentence occurring within the quotes, and not what what that word, phrase, or sentence refers to. Thus:

Red is a color and "Red" has three letters are true while Red has three letters and "Red" is a color are false.

With this in mind we can see that "Red" names red. is true while each of Red names red and "Red" names "Red" are false.

In addition, we can add multiple pairs of quotes to talk about a word, phrase, or sentence that itself contains quotes. For example ""Red"" takes five keystrokes to type and ""Red"" names "Red" are true.

With this in mind, what is the least number of pairs of quotation marks that need to be added to the following poem to make it true, non-redundant, and not nonsense?

According to W. Quine
Whose views on quotation are fine,
Boston names Boston
and Boston names Boston
But 9 doesn't designate 9.

[Note: "Designates" is understood to be synonymous with "names".]

  Submitted by RoyCook    
Rating: 2.5000 (4 votes)
Solution: (Hide)

The answer is:

"According to W. Quine
Whose views on quotation are fine.
Boston names Boston
and Boston names Boston
But 9" doesn't designate 9.

By the way, if you do not know who W.V.O. Quine is (or, sadly, was), and you are into logic and paradoxes, you should look him up.

Addenda: As was noted in the comments section, another option that will work is:

According to W. Quine
Whose views on quotation were fine
"Boston names Boston
And Boston names Boston
But 9" doesn't designate 9

I actually prefer this solution to the original one that was included with the submitted problem, since it preserves the claim that Quine's views on Quotation ARE fine (Quine was an American philosopher who pointed out the confusion and inconsistencies that misuse of quotation can cause in mathematical contexts).

Note that neither case involves nonsense or falsity - there is nothing nonesensical about having nonsense occur within quotation. In fact, the sentence:

"Flubberlugnut" is nonesense.

is a case in point - a perfectly meaningful, in fact true, sentence which contains nonesense within the quotation marks.

Finally, leaving it alone, i.e. adding no quotation marks, fails to satisfy the requirement that it be true (although you need to know who Quine is for this) as well as failing the requirement that it be non-redundant.

Comments: ( You must be logged in to post comments.)
  Subject Author Date
No SubjectKelly2004-05-31 19:33:14
I would do it this wayLisa2004-04-20 17:55:29
re: A solution with just one pair of quotation marksAxorion2004-02-29 20:19:43
SolutionThe simplest solution.....Penny2004-02-24 08:21:15
Possible solutionGreg Maciejewski2004-02-21 15:41:29
NewbieTia Revell2004-02-21 14:03:28
re(2): thoughts what is d2?Tristan2004-02-17 18:19:40
Questionre: thoughts what is d2?Ady TZIDON2004-02-17 05:26:40
re: A solution with just one pair of quotation marksAdy TZIDON2004-02-17 05:24:57
Some Thoughtsre(2): MoreDJ2004-02-16 18:35:10
SolutionA solution with just one pair of quotation marksPenny2004-02-16 16:29:29
Some ThoughtsthoughtsTristan2004-02-16 14:10:14
Some Thoughtsre(2): Just one pairFederico Kereki2004-02-16 13:42:51
re: MorePenny2004-02-16 11:52:11
SolutionMoreDJ2004-02-16 11:47:39
re: Just one pairPenny2004-02-16 11:39:26
SolutionJust one pairFederico Kereki2004-02-16 11:19:38
SolutionSolutionPenny2004-02-16 10:10:05
Some ThoughtsideasRawlyn2004-02-16 10:09:13
Some ThoughtsNot to be pedantic, but....Penny2004-02-16 09:45:18
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