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Begging The Question
Jan 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 []
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