Frege’s discussion of indirect speech is well known and there is general agreement about its purpose: he wants to give a theory of the workings of non-defective language and part of this task is to show how constituents of a sentence appearing in indirect speech contribute to determining the truth-value of the sentence. But there is a problem. On Frege’s view, in a language in which words can appear in indirect speech, all words are ambiguous. And ambiguity in a language, he tells us, is a logical defect. But it is unlikely that he could mean, instead, to be giving us part of a theory of the workings of defective natural language. The author argues that the key to understanding Frege’s discussion of indirect speech is to understand it as contribution to his project of expressing and evaluating inference.
Keywords: Indirect speech, Frege, Sense, Reference, Theory of meaning.