[Ads-l] Rhetoric: Have you given up beating your father?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 26 12:52:50 UTC 2015


How about Stephen Colbert's question to a sleazy local politician many
years ago, when he was still working on the Daily Show?

I paraphrase (slightly, I hope):

"If you're so innocent, why don't you just admit your guilt like a real
man?"

Gets 'em every time!

JL

On Sun, Oct 25, 2015 at 7:39 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Rhetoric: Have you given up beating your father?
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> > On Oct 25, 2015, at 6:02 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole =
> <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >=20
> > Off list Barry Popik told me (and others) about a new entry on his
> > website about a classic trick/comical question:
> >=20
> > "Have you stopped beating your wife?" (loaded question)
> > =
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__barrypopik.com_index=
> .php_new-5Fyork-5Fcity_entry_have-5Fyou-5Fstopped-5Fbeating-5Fyour-5Fwife-=
> 5Floaded-5Fquestion_&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39h=
> B2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3DaJvt3JLZlqZEdz9svHaGoM4D8DGTzLbmrFVYT=
> -TA6ac&s=3DlYzNPD9DmOc03KfRf_VfY7Rj_4Yu1SYLK-eSxm4Rrbk&e=3D=20
> >=20
> > Barry's excellent first citation is dated February 4, 1894. I
> > performed a quick search for close variants and found "Have you given
> > up beating your father?" in a textbook in 1880. I only looked in
> > Google Books and performed one lucky query, so further progress is
> > likely.
> >=20
> > Year: 1880
> > Title: The Elements of Deductive Logic: Designed Mainly for the Use of
> > Junior Students in the Universities
> > Author: Thomas Fowler
> > Quote Page 152
> > Publisher: Macmillan and Company, London
> >=20
> > =
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__books.google.com_bo=
> oks-3Fid-3DNSYCAAAAQAAJ-26q-3Dbeating-23v-3Dsnippet-26&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2=
> m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3DaJv=
> t3JLZlqZEdz9svHaGoM4D8DGTzLbmrFVYT-TA6ac&s=3D69r2EexvFWXPAuNQe02czvlKXt6Tx=
> L3eFBwvDKJM1Hg&e=3D=20
> >=20
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > The so called 'Fallacia plurium interrogationum' has not been noticed
> > in the text, because it is a rhetorical artifice, rather than a
> > logical fallacy. It consists in covertly putting as a single question
> > what is in reality two, as for instance, 'Are gall and honey sweet?'
> > 'Have you cast your horns?' (known as 'cornutus'). 'What did you take,
> > when you broke into my house last night?' 'Have you given up beating
> > your father?' The object is to entrap the respondent into an admission
> > which he would otherwise not be likely to make.
> > [End excerpt]
> >=20
> > Garson
> >=20
>
> 25 years ago I wrote in a paper on review article that "the relation in =
> question can be detected as well in the presupposition-dependent =
> sophisma of choice for the medievals, "Do you still beat you ass?", =
> which may in tum be seen as a lineal descendant of the Megarians' (3rd =
> century B.C.) favoured query, "Have you stopped beating your father? =
> Answer
> yes or no" (cf. Wheeler, 1983: 290-1). The shift in the locus classicus =
> of the unfair question from the father-beating of the ancients through =
> the ass-beating of the medievals to the wife-beating of the moderns =
> provides an eloquent commentary on twenty-three centuries of social =
> progress."
>
> A recent instance of this was an pop-up I received from something called =
> newsmax.com that requested me to respond to the poll question DO YOU =
> STILL SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP?   Hmmm...hard to say.
>
> LH
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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