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moot point - streitiger Punkt, fragliche Sache

18 replies   
Ich denke diese Übersetzung von "moot point" ist völlig falsch. Ein "moot point" ist eine unwichtige, oder irrelevante Sache - so ist eine Übersetzung von "moot" in LEO "irrelevant". "It's a moot point whether..." heisst dass wir diese Sache weglassen können.
AuthorNick Malpas12 Nov 04, 15:05



umstritten; strittig

Examples/ definitions with source references
Oxford Duden

Wenn "moot" umstritten, strittig bedeutet, dann ist "moot point" zweifellos ein strittiger Punkt...
#1AuthorByrdy12 Nov 04, 15:15

moot point


Punkt, über den sich nicht zu streiten lohnt

Ich kenne "moot point" nur in der von Nick genannten Bedeutung, habe mich aber von folgendem Link (und Byrdy :-)) eines besseren belehren lassen. http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-moo1.htm
Zumindest diese Website hält "strittiger Punkt" für die richtige Übersetzung und führt die - in der Tat existierende - Verwendung im Sinne von "irrelevant" für ein Missverständnis.
#2AuthorMattes12 Nov 04, 15:50
Laut AHD scheint moot im Lauf der Zeit einen Bedeutungswandel von offenen/diskussionswürdig hin zu ohne Bedeutung/Signifikanz erfahren zu haben, wobei aber beide Verwendungen noch gebräuchlich zu sein scheinen
(vgl.: http://www.bartleby.com/61/59/M0415900.html)
#3Authorbc12 Nov 04, 17:09


[Amer.] -


Examples/ definitions with source references
Concise Oxford Dictionary

Concise Oxford Dictionary erklärt "moot" so: adj. 1.debatable, undecided (*a moot point*); 2. *US law* having no practical significance. - v.tr. raise (a question) for discussion. - n. 1. *hist.* an assembly. 2. *Law* a discussion of a hypotheical case as an academic exercise.

Dem Eintrag "irrelevant" muß also noch die Einengung "jur. Amer." hinzugefügt werden.

Die Grundbedeutung "strittig, fraglich" kann so bleiben.

In der Bedeutung "assembly" verwendet übrigens Tolkien "moot" im Lord of the Rings, und zwar beim "Entmoot" (dem Treffen der Ents).
#4AuthorMiMo12 Nov 04, 19:00
Here's an interesting clarification, found at www.dictionary.com:

Usage Note: The adjective moot is originally a legal term going back to the mid-16th century. It derives from the noun moot, in its sense of a hypothetical case argued as an exercise by law students. Consequently, a moot question is one that is arguable or open to debate. But in the mid-19th century people also began to look at the hypothetical side of moot as its essential meaning, and they started to use the word to mean “of no significance or relevance.” Thus, a moot point, however debatable, is one that has no practical value. A number of critics have objected to this use, but 59 percent of the Usage Panel accepts it in the sentence The nominee himself chastised the White House for failing to do more to support him, but his concerns became moot when a number of Republicans announced that they, too, would oppose the nomination. When using moot one should be sure that the context makes clear which sense is meant.

My sense is that the meaning "irrelevant" is not restricted to "jur. Amer.", but is the most common sense in all contexts, in American usage in any event.

P.S. The word is frequently pronounced as if it were spelled "mute", and may even now be understood by some in the sense of a point that doesn't have anything to say...
#5AuthorMartin13 Nov 04, 01:12
American usage is moot for an Englishman.
(The name of the language is "English", not "American".)
#6AuthorGrappa13 Nov 04, 08:27
From a British perspective (not just mine, I have been asking around), the meaning "strittig" is still very much the primary meaning of the adjective "moot". Its second meaning, according to the New OED (1998), is "having no practical significance, typically because the subject is too uncertain to allow a decision". Typically, therefore, a moot point may be, or indeed has to be, left out of consideration simply because agreement can never be reached on the issue, not because it is "irrelevant" in the general sense of "nicht zur Sache gehörig".

As to the alternative pronunciation mentioned by Martin, it's not used in the U.K.
@Martin: Do you really mean to say that even well-educated Americans pronounce it that way or only those who don't know any better?

@MiMo: I'd forgotten the Entmoot - haven't read LOTR for years. The noun "moot" was originally used in Anglo-Saxon times for an assembly or "meeting", which is presumably why Tolkien thought it apt for his Ents.
#7AuthorAnne(gb)13 Nov 04, 17:12
Ganz subjektiv: In unzaehligen Diskussionen mit britischen und amerikanischen Kollegen bin ich eigentlich immer nur einer Bedeutung von 'moot point' begegnet: ein Aspekt, der sehr haeufig zunaechst eine gewisse Signifikanz versprueht, dann aber als mehr oder minder irrelevant entlarvt wird oder aber ploetzlich seine Bedeutung verliert ("ok, so xyz is now a moot point").
#8AuthorMarc13 Nov 04, 20:58
moot - adj. subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision: 'whether the temperature rise was mainly due to the greenhouse effect was a moot point.'
• having no practical significance, typically because the subject is too uncertain to allow a final decision: 'it is moot whether this phrase should be treated as metaphor or not.'

moot - 1a: open to question: DEBATABLE b: subjected to discussion: DISPUTED
2: deprived of practical significance: made abstract or purely academic

1. Subject to debate; arguable: a moot question. 2a. [Law] Without legal significance, through having been previously decided or settled. b. Of no practical importance; irrelevant.
#9Authorhm -- us13 Nov 04, 23:06
I agree that 'irrelevant, academic' is now clearly the basic, primary meaning, that it's not at all wrong, and that it's by no means restricted to US legal jargon. Where the Concise OED got that idea I can't imagine; other dictionaries all correctly show it as a perfectly normal sense.

Nick is (apparently) a voice for AusE, and several of us have concurred on AE. It might help to get a little more feedback from BE speakers on how many of them still use the older meaning at all, and if so, how often. So far Anne is the only vote for it, and IIRC hers is a rather conservative legal milieu. I found it interesting that in the worldwidewords.org link Mattes cited, Michael Quinion, a BE speaker, does not in fact say that the historical sense persists, but simply that the meaning has now changed: '...we’ve seen a curious shift in which the sense of “open to debate” has become “not worth debating”.'

In fact, it can be surprisingly hard to find umambiguous modern attestation for the historical 'debatable' sense. For instance, the NOAD undercuts its case by citing as an example a sentence about the greenhouse effect that can easily be read instead with the more modern 'irrelevant' sense. In fact, that's indeed how I believe most speakers would interpret it, i.e., expecting the next sentence to be something like 'What mattered now was finding a way to protect low-lying areas from rising sea levels caused by the melting of polar ice caps.'
#10Authorhm -- us13 Nov 04, 23:13
So I tend to agree with Nick that the LEO entries do seem unduly skewed toward the less common historical sense, especially all the near-duplicates under Wendungen und Ausdrücke. What about at least adding another option or two, like for example '(rein) akademisch'?

The verb entries in LEO also seem one-sided. 'Render moot' in particular I would think can only mean 'make irrelevant.' And the verb sense of 'aufwerfen, vorbringen' (Pons-Collins), 'zur Sprache bringen, anschneiden, erörtern' (Oxford-Duden) appears to be largely missing.

BTW, the 'Usage Note' Martin quoted above is fact from the American Heritage Dictionary (AHD), as seen in the link already cited by bc. Copying it here to read is indeed useful, as obviously many people do not take time to click on links, and others may not have full internet access. But it's even more useful to know that it comes from a trustworthy published source.

>The word is frequently pronounced as if it were spelled 'mute'

Not by anyone reliable. To answer Anne's question, if I may jump in: For me that's a glaring error, in the same league as *'nucular' for 'nuclear' or *'artic' for 'arctic,' only fortunately not so common.
#11Authorhm -- us13 Nov 04, 23:14
Sorry: uNambiguous...
#12Authorhm -- us13 Nov 04, 23:32
@hm-us: Hi. I was hoping you'd come in on this (if only for the pronunciation!). It's way past bedtime but I shall not sleep unless I can find out what IIRC stands for. So, please, put me out of my misery.

I'm having trouble following your argument that <'irrelevant, academic' is now clearly the basic, primary meaning> when the 3 sources you cite, like the OED, give the "debatable" meaning first.

Thank you for reassuring me on the pronunciation point. It's not quite as bad as an acquaintance of my family (who happens to be Australian, which is irrelevant but certainly not moot ;-)) who pronounces "banal" to rhyme with "anal", but I did wonder what the world was coming to. Needless to say, being British, we are all far too embarrassed/polite to correct him.
#13AuthorAnne(gb)14 Nov 04, 01:04
@Anne (gb): I do hope you managed to get to sleep before now, but just in case: IIRC = If I Recall Correctly. (-:

The order of dictionary senses usually has nothing to do with their frequency or popularity. In many (though not all) dictionaries, it does reflect chronological order, so that #1 may be the oldest, but #2 ten times (or 100x or 1000x) more common. And most dictionaries won't mark a sense as rare, obsolete/archaic, etc. as long as even a tiny handful of attestations can be found, no matter how obscure or atypical the sources. That's why, IMO (In My Opinion <g>), it's so important to get input from native speakers as well as dictionaries, and to include links to forum discussions such as this one.

In this case the older sense may indeed still be more common in BE; I'm just not sure we have enough evidence yet to tell. Again, it complicates matters that the two senses are inherently hard to tell apart by context alone. In fact, maybe in practice the difference is moot (in both senses)? (-;

PS: If you have a moment tomorrow or the next day, would you by any chance like to say a word about starting a sentence with the conjunction 'That' (under General Discussion)?
#14Authorhm -- us14 Nov 04, 01:48
@hm-us: Thanks for that. I asked my son (22) and he thought it might be to do with some kind of Internet chatroom (IRC)!
You have an interesting theory on dictionary entries, but I'll sleep on that one.
As to the "that" in "General Discussion", I'm working on it. I've been meaning to get around to it since it was first posted, but raking up leaves has been more pressing today.
Aaaah, I can now sleep easily ;-). Night-night.
#15AuthorAnne(gb)14 Nov 04, 02:10
Brian Garner: "Garner's Modern American Usage":

moot. A. As an Adjective. The OED lists only the sense "that can be argued; debatable; not decided; doubtful." Hence a moot point was classically seen as one that is arguable. A moot case was a hypothetical case proposed for discussion in a "moot" of law students (i.e. the word was once a noun). In U.S. law schools, students practice arguing hypothetical cases before appellate courts in moot court.
From that sense of moot derived the extended sense "of no practical importance; hypothetical; academic." This shift in meaning occured about 1900 <because the question has already become moot, we need not decide it>. Today in AmE, that is the predominant sense of moot. Theodore M. Bernstein and other writers have called this sense of the word incorrect, but it is now a fait accompli, especially in the SET PHRASE moot point. To use moot in the sense "open to argument" in modern AmE is to create an ambiguity and to confuse readers. In BrE, the transformation in sense has been slower, and moot in its older sense retains vitality.
#16AuthorNorbert Juffa14 Nov 04, 03:54
Hi Anne (gb)

Sorry I missed your question today. It's now 7:00 PM in California, and you just signed off, but I thought I would answer your question.

I agree with hm--us, the pronunciation "mute" is not standard, and is not one I would recommend emulating. But I have to say, I've heard "mute" from reasonably well educated people who I thought should know the better. But I have heard it so pronounced from at least several people on several occasions, and I wouldn't think of correcting them. (People often learn a word by hearing it, and the expression "moot point" (pr. "mute point") is common enough.

I do disagree with hm-us however, on the pronunciation of "artic" (for "arctic") being a glaring error. I pronounce it that way myself, as do most people, and I DO know how it's spelled. It's just a simplification, in the same category as, for example, the common pronunciation of "February" as if it were "Febuary" - just a common simplification, and not at all worth commenting on.

Just a last word, for the Germans reading the thread, I would not recommend copying the pronunciations "mute" or "nucular" even if you hear them pronounced that way.

#17AuthorMartin (again)14 Nov 04, 04:11
Re: 'moot' as /myoot/ and 'Arctic' as /artik/:

There is a class of words which one knows perfectly well how to pronounce in theory, but in practice frequently mispronounces in running discourse out of laziness or other reasons.

What I mean by this is that if someone hands me a flashcard with 'Arctic' printed on it and asks me to pronounce it in isolation, I will always pronounce both 'c's, but in running speech I mostly will (but sometimes won't) pronounce the middle one. 'Antarctica' is another example in this class, so are 'fifths' and 'sixths'. ('Often' is *not* an example of this, as the 't' is properly silent; pronouncing the 't' is the opposite case of hypercorrection.)

The case for 'moot' is however clear cut and should always be pronounced /moot/. I would consider /myoot/ an embarrassing gaffe if made by an educated person in the US, Martin's friends excepted, of course.

#18AuthorPeter &lt;us&gt;14 Nov 04, 10:06
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