[tap, tap, tap].
Can everyone hear me? Thank you.
Today’s aggrieved English phrase is “begging the question.” First, what this phrase does not mean. Begging the question isn’t the same as “raising the question,” “asking the question,” or “brings up the question.” No. It is completely different.
“Begging the question” is an example of faulty logic. It actually has nothing to do
with asking a question. Another name for it is “begging the claim,” which makes the working parts easier to understand.
When someone begs the question, the speaker draws a conclusion, not from facts, but from something else stated in the sentence. For example: Mean and ignorant people like John should never become department heads.
While “mean and ignorant people should not become department heads” is logical, the very thing that needs to be proven—why John is not good leadership material—is assumed in the sentence.
Another example: She is a slob because she is unattractive. Maybe the woman is unattractive, but that does not immediately make her a slob. More proof is needed. The sentence relies on proof that is assumed and not proven.
One more: Pollution-spouting monster trucks should be banned. The very conclusion that needs to be proven–that monster trucks create a lot of pollution—is missing. It’s just assumed.Bonus: Confusing words explained
Staunch means loyal or committed in support. “She was a staunch supporter of civil rights.” (It rhymes with paunch.)
Stanch means to stop or restrict, like a flow of blood. (It rhymes with blanch.)
Both words come from the same Old English (via Old French) word meaning “watertight.” While there is a strong trend to let both words mean both things, part of the beauty of the language is in the subtle differences in words that give specific, shaded and nuanced meanings to sentences.
Have a nice day.
—Quinn McDonald loves the English language in all it’s maddening confusion.