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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The OED defines question (n.) as: “That which is enquired about, discussed, or debated.” Other  definitions from the OED say that it is “A subject or proposal to be debated, decided or voted on in a meeting or deliberative assembly...” It’s origins are from the Anglo-Norman questioun, questiun, Middle French question, which was a problem or topic which is under discussion or which must be investigated.Its classical Latin etymon would be quaestiōn-, quaestiō which was the act of searching. There are more than one uses to the word question. In law, as well as in the 12th century, it would have similar meanings to the words inquiry, examination, interrogation, and torture. In science, the words research, dispute and inquire would have similar meanings.According to the OED, “It has been suggested that the Latin word was perhaps borrowed into Old English as cwestion...” 

From the first definition, one of the many uses of the noun form of question would be used in schools. A teacher or a professor would ask a series of questions, either in the form of an exam, quiz, or discussion, to the class. The student then in turn would answer the question. From the second definition, one could assume that in the government, especially in Parliament, which is what they mean by a deliberative assembly. Members of Parliament would raise proposals that would to be up for debate and question, and the whole system would either vote in favour or against it. 

Question can also be used in the form of a verb. The OED defines question (v.) as “To ask questions of; to hold a conversation with; to discuss or debate with.” Another definition states the  question (v.) means: “To ask question or questions especially in an official context; to interrogate.” The etymology of the verb form is similar to the noun form. It is partly derived from the Anglo-Norman and Middle French questionner, which means to ask questions (in modern French, questionner). The word had connotations of torture inorder to extract confessions. This definition of the word was probably used by police and law officials. 

In modern times, question does not have any connotations to torture, however it does with interrogation. Police detectives would interrogate a criminal suspect, or a witness about what happened during a certain event. From the first definition of the verb, one could assume that questions are essential to conversations. Without questions, we as humans will not be able to explore and understand the world around us, therefore we would never progress. As architects, we question the way in which we can improve and create spaces. If our ability to question was taken away from us, then the world today would be a different place where humans would be brainwashed into thinking the “right” and same things. 

  1. " Home : Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/156343?rskey=FE6bgk&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid (accessed November 20, 2012).
  2. " Home : Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/156344?rskey=Lbg3K1&result=2&isAdvanced=false#eid (accessed November 20, 2012).

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