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.

Jesse Sheidlower