Reply to post: Re: Which begs the question

And the buggiest OS provider award goes to ... APPLE?

Michael Wojcik Silver badge

Re: Which begs the question

You descriptivist!

Hardly, with that rubbish about "whale" having some sort of independent meaning.

Language does not require different ontological cateogories for different words and phrases. They all have the same status: they are signals used by interlocutors in a dance that attempts to get their audience to converge on a meaning sufficiently similar to their own. To that end speech communities converge toward (but never quite to) a set of interpretations (denotations and connotations, generally weighted and context-sensitive) for any given word or idiomatic phrase. Different communities will have somewhat different sets, and every language user belongs to multiple communities and code-switches. That is all words are. They do not have existence independent of use, much less meaning.

That said, I too endorse the shibboleth of using "beg the question" for "raise the question"; just as a matter of style. It's unnecessary elevation. It's not quite as bad as, say, using "I" in the objective case ("between you and I" - a vile barbarism much loved by scriptwriters these days).1 But it sounds affected and it's unnecessary, even if it didn't grate on people familiar with the etymology of the expression.

1That is properly a matter of usage, the pronoun "I" traditionally being used specifically and exclusively for the nominative case. (It's not a "grammatical error", because grammar is not offended. There's a well-formed prepositional phrase there. It's simply an error of using a word in a form that is not traditionally the preferred one.)

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