a moot point

Micia93

Senior Member
France French
Bonjour à tous :)

au fil des années, je me suis constituée un petit dictionnaire d'après les postes de ce forum.
Je sais qu'il existe de nombreux fils sur "moot", mais j'ai retenu 2 traductions antinomiques : quelle est la bonne s'il-vous-plaît?
it’s a moot pointC’est discutable / c’est difficile à dire
that’s a moot pointC’est sans importance
 
  • radiok

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I only ever use it with the second meaning, but the dictionary lists both: first definition is "open to discussion" and second one is "of little meaning/value". In all the cases I can think of it being used, it means, for whatever reason, "It's not worth us wasting our time discussing it," so tending towards the second definition.
     

    tellect

    Senior Member
    French
    Bonjour Micia 93,
    Selon mon petit dico maison :
    moot point = point discutable, controversé, sujet de débat, point épineux
    moot question = question contestable, discutable, controversée, hypothétique, question d'intérêt théorique, de peu d'intérêt pratique
    Cela peut éventuellement aider à cerner la notion ...
     

    Micia93

    Senior Member
    France French
    Thank you Radiok, I keep "It's not worth us wasting our time discussing it," :)

    Merci Tellect :), mais tu proposes beaucoup de notions qui me troublent un peu à vrai dire. Pour moi, un point controversé est loin d'être de peu d'intérêt
     

    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I'm afraid I agree with tellect, I have always used it this way, as per thefreedictionary: tr.v. moot·ed, moot·ing, moots
    1. a. To bring up as a subject for discussion or
    debate.b. To discuss or debate. See Synonyms at broach1
     
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    radiok

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I should stress that, although I personally only use it in one way, I believe it's one of those unfortunate cases where it really does have two seemingly contradictory meanings!
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    From the Oxford English Dictionary
    moot, adj. 1. Originally in Law, of a case, issue, etc.: proposed for discussion at a moot. Later also gen.: open to argument, debatable; uncertain, doubtful; unable to be firmly resolved. Freq. in moot case, moot point.


    1956 G. Durrell Drunken Forest x. 199 Whether he could have bitten us successfully..was rather a moot point, but it was not the sort of experiment I cared to make.


    2. N. Amer. (orig. Law). Of a case, issue, etc.: having no practical significance or relevance; abstract, academic.

    In reality, the two meanings are very similar but the meaning is better expressed in 2 (even in BE). In the example, moot = open to argument, debatable; but at some other time. i.e. it was not important at present.
     

    Micia93

    Senior Member
    France French
    Thank you Filly and Paul, too :)

    so, I remain in the same position, meaning I find it awfully hard to give a "standard" translation. But as in many cases, it must depend on the context, as usual ;)
     

    Omelette

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Unlike Paul, I don’t think the meanings are similar. Oxford Dictionaries gives this example. ‘whether the temperature rise was mainly due to the greenhouse effect was a moot point’. Which it defines as ‘subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty.’ This is quite different from saying it has’ no practical significance or relevance; abstract, academic.’
    I’m afraid you’re right, Micia, people seem to use ‘moot’ in different ways. I use your first definition. :)
     

    Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suggest the sentence given by Omelette does fit with PaulQ's proposition. As I read it it means that the cause of the temperature rise was debatable but what was important was the temperature rise itself.

    PS According to Chambers (BE) a moot was originally a meeting to discuss the important questions of the day but later meant a law students' debate about a hypothetical question, which rather reduces its importance.
     
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    Omelette

    Senior Member
    UK English
    ‘subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty’ does not (and never will) = has ‘no practical significance or relevance; abstract, academic.’ :)
     

    Larissa2000

    Senior Member
    English USA
    From the Oxford English Dictionary


    In reality, the two meanings are very similar but the meaning is better expressed in 2 (even in BE). In the example, moot = open to argument, debatable; but at some other time. i.e. it was not important at present.
    I had always understood "the decision is moot" to mean that the decision was invalid or made invalid or that it could not be applicable for some reason. I would have never understood " the decision is moot" to mean "it's open to debate." To me, it means it's already invalidated, there's nothing to debate.

    Is it just me or would other people understand it as invalid?
     

    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    PaulQ's post
    open to argument, debatable; but at some other time. i.e. it was not important at present.
    does not mean it's invalidated but that it is/was not appropriate to discuss it now / it's not relevant to the present conversation/issue.
     

    bh7

    Senior Member
    Canada; English
    The problem appears to be that "moot point" / "moot question" can mean either
    [1] sth. no longer of any practical purpose / significance / relevance [=> discussing it further is just a waste of time
    or
    [2] sth. that is undecided or debatable, sth. open to debate, controversial

    Since the terms are regularly used with both of these significations, dictionaries have to acknowledge this. You cannot drop one because you prefer the other! What is meant by a specific use of "moot" has to be deduced from the context. You have to remain alert to both of these potential meanings, regardless of your personal preference for one or the other.

    In the special context of "moot court" (both in the physical sense of a special hall in a law school and the goings-on within that room), the best English synonym is "simulated". It is a simulated court, with students playing the court participants to the best of their abilities. It is an academic exercise quite like a management game is for commerce students. As such, it has no real-life significance besides being a learning experience for participants and onlookers alike.
     
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