Yes. It is. And it’s dreadful. I’ve also seen “debate” used in both ways.
That’s… even more curious, given that it doesn’t traditionally mean either. In fact doesn’t ‘debate X’ conventionally imply ‘consider the possibility that X may or may not be true’, which is sort of the opposite of ‘assert X’ or ’deny X’?
I’m confused @_@ Could you give a working example?
Sorry! Okay, so if someone says ‘I would argue that cygnets are teh cutes’, I would normally expect that to mean ‘I would assert (and, if necessary, try to prove) that swans are teh cutes’. But lately I’m hearing people say ‘I would argue that cygnets are teh cutes’ meaning ‘I would deny (and, if necessary, try to disprove) that swans are teh cutes’.
I think it comes from the fact that arguing often involves disagreeing, and so ‘argue that X’ seems like it ought to mean ‘disagree with X’. It’s understandable but it conflicts with the older sense of ‘argue’ as in ‘put forward reasons’, from which we get the traditional ‘argue that X’ meaning ‘put forward reasons in support of X’.
…………this is a thing?!!?!?!?!??
Yup. I’ve heard media spokespeople and other professional sentence-makers use the ‘argue that X is false’ version quite a few times on news broadcasts and suchlike.
I’ve never seen anyone using “argue that __” to mean “argue against ___”… Without the “that”, yes, but not otherwise.
Interesting. It would be odd if he presence or absence of the ‘that’ made a difference, since in most sentences where ‘that’ introduces a subordinate clause you can leave it out and it means the same.