Stop Begging!

Enough already of using the expression "to beg the question" when you mean "to raise the question"!  If you’re doing it because you think it makes you sound smarter, it doesn’t.  Quite the opposite, in fact.
I thought Safire addressed this years ago when he wrote:
If the issue I raise today cries out for an answer, if the point of this article invites close cross-examination, am I begging the question?
No. Though my trickle-down convictions may beggar my neighbor, I will not beg the question, because I am not in the fallacy dodge. Of the many fulminations from specialists about the distortions of their vocabularies by the lay public, this mendicant phrase leads all the rest.
Apparently some folks didn’t get the memo.  So let’s review: Begging the question is to assume as a premise the point you are trying to prove.  If you believe that something requires us to confront an issue, it raises the question.  No begging is involved.  Unless, of course, you want to get people to talk about the panhandling problem.
I trust there will be no further confusion on this matter.

One response to “Stop Begging!

  1. But what if the definition of the word is changing as a function of common usage?  This begs the question:  How will the OED define it 20 years from now?  See Prescription and description.
    To quote a certian GM of ours "It is what it is".  Yes I know some ancient dude said it first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s