Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1998 14:04:35 EST
From: RonButters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Re: standardization of non-standard forms

In a message dated 3/11/98 9:27:38 AM, laurence.horn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALE.EDU wrote:

I was just reminded of another expression that has now shifted
along the lines of the (non-malapropism?) examples I was citing yesterday
(proof in the pudding, wherefore art thou): the reanalysis of "beg the
question". ESPN's baseball analyst Peter Gammons last night was discussing
the Toronto Blue Jays' prospects for this year, with strong pitching and
uncertain hitting, and said that this "begs the question of which is more
important, pitching or hitting"--i.e., it RAISES that question. OK, not a
malapropism, but this clearly represents a standardization of a form not
standardly used with this meaning.

BEGS THE QUESTION in this sense has taken on a real vogue usage, I think, but
as has been pointed out here (?) before, it is not new. At least my memory is
that I was surprised to learn that dictionaries have been listing this "new"
usage for years (I just checked my AMERICAN HBERITAGE, though, and don't find

Larry lists "duck tape", "chaise lounge", perhaps "tenure tract" or "no holes
barred". And how about "bedroom suit"?