Re: [WAYYY OT] Begs the question

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On Tue, 2011-03-22 at 10:34 +0000, Marko Vojinovic wrote:
>  "That begs the question. I'll try again. Why do they think it has a
> basis?"
>
> is correct usage, while
>
>    "That begs the question, why do they think it has a basis?"
>  
> is incorrect. If I assume that the "I'll try again." sentence in the
> middle is irrelevant in this context, the only difference I see is
> comma vs. period.
>  
> So, all in all, are you actually complaining about punctuation usage?
>  
> As English is not my native language, I tend to understand the meaning
> more from the context than from the syntax, so pardon my ignorance in
> this. Can you explain why is the period-sentence correct while the
> comma-sentence is incorrect?

Ignoring anything do with what "begs the question" means, or doesn't
mean.  The first sample quotation has two statements, and a separate
question.  The second one has what should be a separate phase lumped in
with a question, when they shouldn't be combined.

i.e. The bit that it starts off with "That begs the question" isn't a
question, nor any part of a question, so it shouldn't be in a sentence
that's a question.

On the other hand, it could have been correctly written as:

  "That begs the question, 'Way do they think it has a basis?'"

(Someone said "That begs the question," and then stated what the
question was.)

It's a bit like bracketing in maths.  Perhaps more obvious, when you
look at some other languages, where they have the upside down question
mark in front of the start of a question, as well as a question mark at
the end.

e.g. "That begs the question.  I'll try again. ¿Why do they think it has
a basis?"

Now it's very clear which parts of that speech are statements, and which
parts are questions.

It's just basic grammar, and doesn't even have to be about questions.
When you're writing, properly, there are things that you break apart
into separate sentences, and other's that are just clauses within the
same sentence.

Grammar's a fun thing, especially with the English language.  For
instance, in this sentence:

  "We went to school, we wrote in our books, we had lunch."

Did we go to school, and write in our books, and have lunch?  Or did we
go to school, and write "we had lunch" into our books?

If that had been written as three separate sentences, we'd know for
sure.

.... It must be a slow news day.
-- 
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