Date: Tue, 20 Feb 1996 11:07:37 -0500
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: "Beg the question": NYT 2-fer
Thanks for adding the latest quotes (an interesting shortening of
quotations -- any time-depth of cites ( citations ) on that?: I ask only
because it has lately troubled me in formal contexts).
The earliest in OED2 is from 1888: Stodgy "quotes" from the ancients?
Next is T.S. Eliot, 1922: Do you mean not use the Conrad quote or
simply not put Conrad's name to it?
Howsomever, I think the examples are perhaps ambiguously open to
the first interpretation I would automatically assign to them: viz, "IGNORES
the question", i.e., presupposes an understanding or awareness of what the
questioned item is, thus leaving it unexamined or unquestioned, through
failure to raise it as an issue or term to be questioned. In this sense, I
do not find this a new meaning, but one that has been around quite a while.
I agree that this sense is not new, and you're probably right to say
that it should be the first sense one thinks of. But looking over the
cites, I think the sports one is unambiguous in the sense I suggest,
'raise or prompt the question'. (Forgive my typo on "above,"
obviously.) The second does in retrospect seem ambiguous, but a
good case could be made either way. I'd suggest though that esp. among
younger speakers, the sense 'raise or prompt the question' is likely
to be the only one.
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com