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DEBATE

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DEBATE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:08 pm

• debate •


Pronunciation: dee-bayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To engage in a formal argument (debate), usually involving two sides presenting opposing views. 2. To argue a point informally from different perspectives.

Notes: Today's Good Word is topical since the US presidential debates take place tonight. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are the debaters this year. This noun has two adjectives, the now rarely used debative, and (un)debatable, as in, "It is debatable who will win tonight's debate, but undebatable that it will take place."

In Play: I discussed the difference between debate, argue, and quarrel in the Language Blog. There, I described a debate as a formal argument between two or more sides based on logic and fact. A quarrel, however, is an unreasonable and unreasoned match between two people whose minds can't be changed. The winner of an quarrel is decided by who screams loudest or who gives up and leaves. A debate, however, need not be between two people: "I'm debating (in my mind) whether to watch the debates; I'm afraid they will just confuse me more."

Word History: In Middle English this word was debaten from Old French debatre (débattre in Modern French), comprising de- "down, completely" + battre "to beat". English borrowed this form from French for our batter and battery "beating". The root of this word has been around for a long time. We see it in Old Russian bat "oak stick", Irish bat "cudgel, and in Sanskrit bátati "hit, beat". Latin must have borrowed it from a Germanic language, for the presumable Proto-Indo-European root it should have come from, bhat-, would have become fat- in Latin. Yet there it is, Latin battuere, which converted itself by Late Latin to battere.
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Re: DEBATE

Postby Slava » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:37 pm

Also related to the batten of batten down the hatches. But not, apparently, the batten of fatten, of which I was previously unaware.
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Re: DEBATE

Postby MTC » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:50 pm

In 1988, The League of Women Voters, a neutral body which had previously moderated the Presidential Debates withdrew from participation with the following firey statement:

"The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates...because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."

I respectfully suggest that my fellow posters watch the Presidential Debate tonight and decide for themselves whether the event conforms more closely to the definition of a "debate" given by Dr. Goodword, or the "charade devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions" described by the League of Women Voters. We will then have something to talk about, if not debate.
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Re: DEBATE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:23 pm

The listed part of speech is a verb, and so it is. But debate is also a noun, and it is so used in the In Play section as a subject.

Re the Leagues withdrawal in 1988: if they thought it was bad THEN......
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Re: DEBATE

Postby MTC » Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:23 am

Also from the same conflicted tree as "debate," the word "battle." And that's what the noun "debate" is, a verbal battle.

When Dr. Goodword says, "The winner of an argument is decided by who screams loudest or who gives up and leaves," I'm sure he means only informal arguments. Judges decide the outcome of legal arguments. Screaming and leaving the courtroom are likely to result in sanctions.

As for the noun and verb form of "debate," I wonder which came first? Sometimes it is the noun with the verb following, e.g., "impact."
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Re: DEBATE

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:33 am

I prefer an airy repartee to a debate.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: DEBATE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:46 am

MTC, I think doc was referring to argument or quarrel when he spoke of the winner by volume.
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Re: DEBATE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:06 pm

I am totally aware of its import, but that is all that is on
the media today. Is there anything else going on in the
world?
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Re: DEBATE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:06 pm

Nothing at all, merely a few wars and revolutions, car bombs, and some kind of economic crisis in Your-rope.
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Re: DEBATE

Postby Slava » Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:35 pm

Will the debate be a débâcle? Only time will tell.
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DEBATE correction

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:23 pm

MTC & Perry,

I did mean "The winner of a quarrel is decided by who screams loudest". My apologies for the error.
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Re: DEBATE

Postby MTC » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:55 am

Thank you for the clarification, Dr. Goodword.

Time has answered Slava's question.
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