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  • I doubt the helpfulness of comparing "question" and "doubt" directly. ;^) Most dictionaries assign several shades of meaning to these terms, but here are two from WordNet that are similar to yours, but show more clearly what I mean:


    a sentence of inquiry that asks for a reply


    the state of being unsure of something

    You seem to be objecting to assumptions about the state of mind behind a question. While a question certainly can be motivated by doubt arising from unfriendly distru

    • Those definitions came from (in this context I looked at the noun definitions).

      My motivation for this post is my experience with English speakers of Indian extraction using these terms interchangeably; I've never seen it with other ethnicities, Asian or otherwise. This is entirely a nitpicky post, and I have no illusions that it will affect anyone's decision to speak English more clearly.

      In my own parlance, a question is a statement used to elicit information from someone: I asked her a question. A doubt is a disbelief one holds about something such as an idea or a person: I doubt you have researched this. The two words have quite distinct meanings, one being external and one being an internal state, possibly not even expressed.

      Using them interchangeably (as several of my professors have done in the past) is sloppy, in my opinion.

      To pursue this particular stream of consciousness, I've noticed something similar to "cargo-cult programming"--call it "cargo-cult speaking"--where one "copies and pastes" verbiage learned from elsewhere without reflecting on it. This is also related to the phenomenon of "programming by coincidence". Perhaps I'll develop this topic further in some future blog post.