Update: Beg The Question [begthequestion.info] is now open for all your pedantic curmdugeonly grammatical needs!
Note: This was an April Fool's joke. Please don't march. And yes, I used "ignoramii" on purpose.
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For too long, we linguistic pedants have cringed, watching this phrase used, misused, and abused, again, and again, and again. "This begs the question..." we read in the editorials, see on TV, hear on the radio, (perhaps even read in one of those newfangled "web blogs") and we must brace ourselves as the ignoramii of modern society literally ask a question after the phrase.
"Begging the question" (BTQ) is a form of logical fallacy in which an argument is assumed to be true without evidence other than the argument itself. (e.g. "He's dumb because he's stupid and it's so because I said so.")
It does not mean "raising the question," and it is not meant to apply to an actual question (e.g. "That begs the question, why is he so dumb?"). If that's how you used it, you got it wrong, and no doubt the more knowledgeable folk listening to you winced as you said it.
Too many people have abused BTQ too long, and WE WILL STAND FOR IT NO LONGER! We're marching on Washington. We're petitioning our lawmakers. It's time to stop the horror. We demand that Congress enact a law to regulate BTQ use, levying heavy penalties on any who use it to mean "raise the question" -- a $100 fine for the first offense, and 6 months imprisonment for repeated offenses. We have the means, the surveillance equipment necessary to monitor conversations and writings: we need only the will to clean up our language!
Too harsh, you say? But the very fabric of language is being polluted! It starts with people misusing BTQ -- where will it end?! Prepositions being used to end sentences with? Increasing use of "ain't" and "should of" in our schools? Sentence fragments being treated as independent clauses? Rampant use of txt spk abbrvtns & 1337 h4><0|2 5p33|< in common writing? is dat wt j00 wnt? IS IT?
Already, philosophical arguments are degrading, as more knowledgeable folk accuse their conversational partners of "begging the question," only to meet the reply, "What's the question I'm begging?" If we don't act now, who knows what depths we could sink to? Language as we know it will collapse! Words and phrases will be open to any gopher bookcase throwing limelight Pepsi yellow harving gadger sastunable turpadoop!
Meet at the US Capitol Lower Terrace on the afternoon of April 1st, 2005 * with your pickets. It's time to make our voices heard, to restore purity to beg the question and save our language!
Instead of "begs," say "raises," or "prompts the question" instead. If you catch yourself saying "begs," you can quickly save your grammatical reputation and spare your audience by saying "begs for the question," which would still be quite correct.
* April Fool! Please don't march for this. If you actually do march, send me photos, and I'll send the funniest photo a working slot toaster. DC Metro area only.
The march is a joke, but the danger is all too real. Please use BTQ properly. Proper usage is at stake!