This is one of those issues that is catnip to the adolescent language-lover but which a sensible person grows out of. I too used to enjoy tormenting people with the "truth" about the phrase, but I eventually realized that, whatever its origins in philosophy and petitio principii, I had never seen or heard the phrase used "correctly" except by people making a point of doing so (cf. "hoi polloi"); in current English usage, "beg the question" means 'raise the question,' and that's that. I got over it, and so should Safire. (An anguished appraisal by the earnest Michael Quinion of World Wide Words ends by saying the phrase is "better avoided altogether"; like Fowler's similar recommendation concerning "hoi polloi," this counsel of despair is a sign that the language has sailed on, leaving wistful archaists treading water and clutching at the stern.)
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I am not saying "anything goes," I am not saying any English is as good as any other; I am saying English should be as forceful and effective as it can be, and that has nothing to do with traditional "rules," and in fact insisting on those rules not only helps keep the plebs down, it deprives us of much good writing that gets stifled before it can even stretch its little limbs and cry.
...punctuation is 'a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story without stumbling'.
Isn't the analogy with good manners perfect? Truly good manners are invisible: they ease the way for others, without drawing attention to themselves.
Here, here. Well said, rushmc.
Heroically, I refrain from comment.
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