Lets not argue about it

I think we have another language problem on our hands here everyone. I think we’ve gone and broken the word “argument”.

I think it’s happened because we’ve all decided that “debate” is too pompous. It might well be too pompous, as it goes, it sounds a bit high falutin’, doesn’t it? Would you like to enter our debate? Will we be using the Chatham House Rule?

But what’s the word for what you do with your friends, or your partner, when one of you kind of takes up one position and the other takes the opposite one? Not in a forced debatey kind of way, but in a natural conversational kind of way. Debate is probably the word really. But it isn’t what people say nowadays, oh no…

“So Susan, are you going to lay that patio?”
“Well, funnily enough, Paul and I were having an argument… well… discussion about it last night.”

That’s right, the new word for this situation is, “argument… well… discussion”.

“Discussion” isn’t the word by itself because it implies that you might well agree about it, “we were discussing it and we both think we should go for it.”

And “argument” sounds too strong. It sounds like you might have been really cross about what you were debating. “Argument” has a frisson of emotion to it. And goodness gracious me, it would certainly never do to entertain the possibility that you have an emotional depth thicker than a sheet of paper.

But isn’t there already a word for the times when an argument goes a bit too far? Yes, it’s “row”. “Row” sits nicely between “argument” and “fight”.

So it would seem we are too squeamish to use “argument” now. We don’t want to admit that we are passionate about our point of view. When we say “argument”, we think other people think we’re saying “row”, but being nice.

And I know why – it is nice and polite. I know I’d say, “bit of a debate” probably to avoid saying “argument”. But my characters, who are hopefully more realistic than I am, will probably say, “argument… well… discussion”.

What would you say?

10 thoughts on “Lets not argue about it

  1. fourstar says:

    I always go for "we were having a chat about this". Which seems like 'discussion' but somehow sharper, implying that we may not have agreed.

  2. Alex Andronov says:

    You often use chat about me… Hmmm ;)I like it… but I'm not sure it works for me.

  3. Bassano Clapper says:

    We used to call it going "back & forth" on a subject, probably for the same reasons. Argument sounds too negative. I guess it's really how you view it but I think a healthy debate, argument or whatever is a good thing, as long as it's kept below a simmer

  4. fourstar says:

    Coo, so I do. So it has different meanings at home and at work. Even more confusion.

  5. RubberGoat says:

    It's funny, in Science the word 'argument' comes up a lot, with it's meaning as 'to express one's point of view'. However, if when having a discussion, you mention a phrase to another such as 'your argument is…' the common response is 'but I wasn't arguing!'I think the word is misused and it has become too strong to mean anything other than 'a discussion leading to a strong and passionate disagreement'…

  6. fourstar says:

    I just mentioned this to SOlveig and she thought "having a chat" was what we might do with Freyja when she comes home with some inappropriate boy, so more of a one-way imposition of opinion!

  7. Alex Andronov says:

    @RubberGoatI used to have that "your argument seems to be" thing quite a bit but to stop that I've now gone for "your point seems to be". Although that can have its dangers as well!

  8. Alex Andronov says:

    Yes that is definately "having a chat"Perhaps chat is a bit broken as a word too.

  9. kris says:

    "Argument", for me. I won't have that arguing is a bad thing anyway.

  10. jimfurie says:

    you are wrong, she is right not really an argument as such!

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