Peeve: it’s RAISES/RAISING the question, dangnabbit

Unless one has made some detailed study of the field of rhetoric, and the use and misuse of logical fallacies therein, one is almost certainly not using the phrase “begs/begging the question” correctly. Yes, world – UR DOIN IT RONG.

That’s right, Senator George Brandis, I am currently looking at you (re Lateline 2010-08-04). The two phrases are not synonyms, but most journos and pollies currently appear little better (Geraldine Doogue and Philip Adams are honoured exceptions who know how to phrase such things properly, there probably are a few more), despite this being literally sophomoric debating team stuff.

This repeated usage error is teeth-grindingly obstreperating. I don’t understand why it always seems to be at its most prolifically misused during election campaigns, but it is. Two and a half more weeks – can I survive without exploding?

Categories: language, media

Tags: , ,

4 replies

  1. … Agree with the exasperation of hearing mis-used words and phrases.
    … and agree that none of us may last the distance during this current election campaign.
    But one inaccurate use of a word that bugs me, and not only during election campaigns, is the use of ‘scapegoat’ when people mean ‘sacrificial lamb’. The ‘scapegoat’ actually gets to ESCAPE (hence its name) and it gets to run off anonymously into the desert or forest or bush or wherever it likes, with everyone’s sins on its head (therefore the sins ‘escape’ as well). This is not what is usually meant in today’s vernacular.

  2. Language Log had a good piece not long ago on “begging the question”: Highly entertaining reading for any language nerd (including me).

  3. Thank God! I thought I was like one of those old men who lament the passing of the subjunctive. I’ve heard any number of otherwise well read people, including literary editors, misuse the phrase, to the extent that I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dictionary allow that meaning. But that would mean the effective death of a useful concept.

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