- 1. Science begins with curiosity.
- 2. Science begins with the nineteenth letter of the English alphabet.
- 1'. "Science" begins with the nineteenth letter of the English alphabet.
To talk (in English) about science (as in sentence 1 above), we use the (English) word which refers to, or names, science, viz. the word comprised of the seven letters "s", "c", "i", "e", "n", "c", and "e". But suppose we want to talk, not about science, but about that very word in English which we use to refer to science. Suppose we wanted to say of that word that it contains seven letters. We might write:
- 3. The word "science" contains seven letters.
* -Quotation marks, insofar as they are regarded as punctuation marks - like commas, periods, semi-colons, etc. – are not spoken aloud. (More exactly, they are not usually spoken aloud; Victor Borge has made a living speaking pronunciation aloud as part of his stage performance.) Thus it is rather clumsy in spoken English to create the names of words. We have to take recourse to such awkward expressions as: "She knew that quote mind unquote was not much used in his course."
† - It is common when using quotation marks inside of quotation marks, to switch the inner pair to single-quotes, e.g. "'science'"... In the U.K., the convention is often reversed from that most commonly used in North America. Many writers and editors in the U.K. will use single quotation marks for 'outer' quotation marks, and double quotation marks for 'inner' ones.
‡ - There is another, related, use of quotation marks among careful, serious writers. Sometimes writers will place (single) quotation marks around a word or a phrase to indicate that they are using the term in a specialized or idiosyncratic way... Such marks are often called "scare quotes", "shudder quotes", or "inverted commas". Again, the convention is often reversed in the U.K.: there the usual convention is to use double quotation marks for scare quotes.