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Begging The Question
January 16th, 2009 by Mike

One thing that irks me is talking heads completely butchering the English language. Many times they take a term that means one thing then use it incorrectly to mean another. For example, the word momentarily means for a moment. How many times a day do you hear an announcer say, “We’ll be back momentarily?” The announcer means in a moment but is actually saying for a moment.

One phrase that talking heads misuse that really annoys me is begs the question to mean asks the question. In fact, begging the question is a logical fallacy wherein the arguer tries to prove a point by relying on a premise1 that proves the point. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the topic.

In logic, begging the question has traditionally described a type of logical fallacy … in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises...

In contemporary usage, “begging the question” often refers to an argument where the premises are as questionable as the conclusion.

In popular usage, “begging the question” is often used to mean that a statement invites another obvious question. This usage is stated to be incorrect in The Oxford Guide to English Usage, 1st edition; “raises the question” is suggested as a more appropriate alternative. Improper usage of the term may to some observers make the user appear uneducated; this is presumably the opposite effect the user intends by using the term. [Emphasis mine]

Are you surprised the talking heads get stuff like this wrong?

© 2009, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

- - - - - footnotes - - - - -
  1.  something assumed or taken for granted []

4 Responses  
  • Bonnie writes:
    January 16th, 200918:27at

    No, my English now suffers so many years from high school. I still think Mary and I went to shop is correct when everyone else says Mary and me went to shop.

    And do not use the word ‘woken’ with me!

  • georgette writes:
    January 17th, 200917:44at

    Nope 😀

  • Mike writes:
    January 17th, 200923:30at

    Actually, Bonnie, they say, “Me and Mary went to shop.” Not only do they get the case incorrect, they put themselves first.

  • georgette writes:
    January 20th, 200900:28at

    You know what I’m really gonna miss? Stuff like this from our Harvard educated Prez.
    BUSH: “You know, I’m not going to speculate about what he’s going to do. It’s going to be — you know, he’s going to get into the Oval Office, he’s going to analyze each situation, and he’s going to make the decisions that he think is necessary.

    And the other thing is, when I get out of here, I’m getting off the stage. I believe there ought to be, you know, one person in the klieg lights at a time. I’ve had my time in the klieg lights.

    You know, I’m confident — you know, you’ll catch me opining on occasion.

    But I wish him all the best. And people say, “Oh, that’s just a throwaway line.” No. It’s not a throwaway line. The stakes are high. There is an enemy that still is out there.

    You know, people can maybe try to write that off as, you know, he’s trying to set something up. I’m telling you there’s an enemy that would like to attack America — Americans — again. There just is. That’s the reality of the world.

    And I wish him all the very best. And, of course, he’s going to have his hands full with the economy, I understand. It’s tough for a lot of working people out there. The people are concerned about their economic future.

    You know, one of the very difficult parts of the decision I made on the financial crisis was to use of hardworking people’s money to help prevent there to be a crisis, and in so doing some of that money went into Wall Street firms that caused the crisis in the first place.” 😯 Jan 2009 Associated Press transcribed by CQ Transcriptions


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