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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: January ::
Begging the Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0036  Friday, 15 January 2010

[1] From:   Mario A. DiCesare <
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 >
     Date:   Thursday, 14 Jan 2010 12:58:54 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 21.0029 Begging the Question

[2] From:   Conrad Cook <
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 >
     Date:   Friday, 15 Jan 2010 02:52:46 -0500
     Subj:   Begging the Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Mario A. DiCesare <
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 >
Date:       Thursday, 14 Jan 2010 12:58:54 -0500
Subject: 21.0029 Begging the Question
Comment:    Re: SHK 21.0029 Begging the Question

I agree fully with Anthony Burton. I remember how I listened with horror 
as a colleague actually used "mitigate against" when he clearly meant 
"militate against." I said nothing publicly at the time but did said the 
young man a note to clear things up. I think we should actively resist 
all such corruptions of the language.

Mario A. DiCesare

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Conrad Cook <
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 >
Date:       Friday, 15 Jan 2010 02:52:46 -0500
Subject:    Begging the Question

Anthony Burton <
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 >wrote:

 >...Despite the proliferation of idiocies such as this one, most of
 >them are likely as not to be verbal fads which, with any luck will drop
 >out of currency in a year or so and abandon the phrase once  again only
 >to informed users.

That may happen. Some years ago, I found people tripping everywhere over 
imply - infer confusion. But question-begging confusion has been going 
on for longer.

It may instead happen that the meaning of the phrase changes. That 
happened, for example, with "the exception that proves the rule." If I 
remember, that was originally a French, and it meant, of course, that 
one exception *breaks* a rule. Tests it and renders it invalid. But 
through some confusion in rendering that meaning in a sufficiently 
snappy way, it came to mean the opposite.

 >Remember (or reread) Orwell's great "Politics and the English Language,"
 >the optimistic conclusion of which is that the decline of careful usage
 >and its consequent harm to clear thinking is something that can be 
reversed.

That may be, *if* enough energy is put out. The people on this list 
*could* start a kind of public education effort, writing in to various 
forums, blogs, and advice columns, explaining it in simple, 
attention-catching language to those who don't know.

Could be entertaining.

But there's no reason to think it will happen on its own. Most people 
don't understand it's the name of a fallacy, and often the people who 
unwittingly promulgate its misuse don't know what a fallacy is.

Conrad.

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