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Re: Begging the question

Posted by Grant Nelson on July 01, 2004

In Reply to: Begging the question posted by Henry on June 14, 2004

: : : : does anyone know the definitions for these idioms beg the question, de rigeur, halcyon days, raison d'etre, warp and woof???????????????????????? I would really appreciate any help anyone has thanks so much.

: : : I'm going to give the other phrase-finders a wonderful opportunity to correct me, and you an opportunity to look these up. To beg the question is so to phrase the question as to include or indicate the correct or desired answer. It does NOT mean "raise the question." It is rarely used correctly, and if you DO use it correctly no one will understand you. De rigueur: straight from the French, means necessary, mandatory, either in fact or in effect. It can be applied, for instance, to clothing, as in, sloppy jeans were de rigueur in those days. Or plaid skirts were de rigueur, on the sisters' say-so. Halcyon days are from Greek mythology; halcyon refers to the kingfisher. Halcyon days are serene, sunny days, really good days. One can use the phrase figuratively, as in the halcyon days of my youth (if that's what they were). Raison d'etre, again, straight from the French, reason for being, reason for existence. The whole raison d'etre of this organization is to promote space exploration. Warp and woof: on a loom the warp goes one way, the woof the other. Figuratively, if you have something that permeates the warp and woof of some medium, it means that the whole fabric shows it or is involved, since woven fabric has only the threads of the warp and the woof. Now look these things up and see whether I'm right or wrong or just unintelligible. SS

: : Isn't it 'warp' and 'weft'?

: Weft and woof are synonyms.

: I couldn't comment further without reference to Fowler. He says that begging the question is the fallacy of founding a conclusion on a basis that as much needs to be proved as the conclusion itself. Arguing in a circle is a common variety. He offers two other examples;
: Capital punishment is necessary because without it murders would increase.
: Democracy must be the best form of government because the majority are always right.
: Today, it is a phrase which is used by writers intending other meanings and is also interpreted in a number of ways by readers.
: Fowler describes a leading question as a friendly one, so phrased as to guide or lead the person questioned to the answer that it is desirable for him to make, but that he might not think of making or be able to make without help.