Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Short Rant on the Topic of Language

"Begging the question" means that you have already assumed that which you are setting out to prove. It is an error of logic. What I have just described is the only acceptable use of the term. If you are talking with someone about whether cherry pie is better than apple pie (and this would be a silly argument because of course it is), and he says "A good apple pie is better than a good cherry pie," (he is, by the way, clearly insane, but he may have other redeeming qualities, so please try not to suggest that he refrain from reproducing so as to avoid contamination of the gene pool) you may not say, "Well, that begs the question of what a good pie really is." (You will, no doubt, note the clumsiness of my example. I can only say that I am simultaneously attempting to relate the topic to food and to overcome my distaste at having to use the term incorrectly, even for the sake of example, and I am clearly up to neither task.)

When you are having a discussion and you require further clarification about one of the statements or a better definition of a term, you have an easy alternative. "That raises the question."

Only you can prevent the disintegration of the language. Please do your part.


Blogger David said...

And never, ever, ever capitalize anapestic.


12:08 PM  
Blogger Sangroncito said...

How about if I just beg for the apple pie?

1:51 PM  
Blogger Covenanter said...

What drives me frightenly close to strangling "servers", "waitpersons", "store clerks", et.al. is when I say "Thank you" (for whatever serving, waiting, or clerking they just did) and they respond with a (magnanimous, for what?!) "No problem." NO PROBLEM!
Hey weeny brain, I was neither apologising nor confessing a sin; I was expressing my a p p r e c i a t i o n, which I now must retract!"

That's all for now. Thanks for reading (Don't say it!)

2:17 PM  

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