argument. a false friend?

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ibex
Frequent Typer
Beiträge: 120
Registriert: 12. Jun 2010 10:34
Muttersprache: Deutsch

argument. a false friend?

Beitrag von ibex »

Hello,

I've always been taught an English argument is something between a quarrel and a row and not to be mistaken for the German Argument (=point to illustrate / prove an opinion). I did hear it, however, being used several times amongst native speakers. So it must me correct, mustn't it? How common is it to use argument with this meaning, and which words would you use synonymous to it?

Thank you! :-)




tiorthan
Lingo Whiz
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Registriert: 13. Jun 2010 01:36
Muttersprache: de, (pl)

Re: argument. a false friend?

Beitrag von tiorthan »

The word "argument" by itself means something along the lines of "what you have when you argue" (argue + -ment). So, what does "argue" mean? English learners may easily decide that "to argue" would include some kind of disagreement, because disagreement is often a cause for an argument. But that's actually just one aspect of a broader meaning. To argue means to present reason or to make a point. Both are things you do in a dispute, so if you are having a verbal dispute, you are usually having an argument. However, you also present reason when you try to persuade someone or as part of a chain of reasoning.

So coming back to the original question, you see, argument has a broad spectrum of possible meanings that range from a fully fledged verbal fight down to the things people say or might say to simply make a point. The latter, especially, is close to what we understand to be an "Argument" in German.

Having said that, and ignoring the fact that the English word has a much broader range of meaning than the German word, there is still a teeny-tiny gap between the English and the German meaning. The English word centers around action while the German word centers around facts. Nevertheless, things get a little fuzzy around the edges here and its a bit difficult to explain the difference.

As to how often it is used: commonly.
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ibex
Frequent Typer
Beiträge: 120
Registriert: 12. Jun 2010 10:34
Muttersprache: Deutsch

Re: argument. a false friend?

Beitrag von ibex »

Hello tiorthan,
thank you very much for your detailed and illustrative answer, it helped me a lot! :freu:
Now, I know posts are not meant just for thanking somebody, but in fact your answer lead me to thinking about some other question which grew so long that I posted it as an extra question: ftopic12734.html#p55046

Thank you.

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