Law School Discussion

Need help LR Oct.99


Need help LR Oct.99
« on: April 02, 2005, 03:50:23 PM »
16. We can learn about the living conditions of a vanished culture by examining its language.  Thus, it is likely that the people who spoke Proto-Indo-European, the language  from which all Indo-European language descended, lived in a cold climate, isolated from ocean or sea, because Proto-Indo-European lacks a word for "sea," yet contains works for "winter," "snow," and "wolf."

Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

B. Some languages lack words for prominent elements of the environments of their speakers.
D. Proto-Indo European possesses words for "heat."

I picked D. The argument assumes that the Proto-Indo-Eurpoean languages possiblly have words of things that they see such as "winter" "snow" "wolf" wouldn't it weaken the arguement if they had a word such as heat which is something that you can't see, but feel....?

Why is B right? Does it matter that some languages lack words for prominent elements of the enivronment like maybe some Asian languages or other different language trees of which Proto-Indo-Europeans do not evolve from, for me this answer is too this case does not seem to impact this argument?

Please share your thoughts...


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Re: Need help LR Oct.99
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2005, 05:55:19 PM »
The assumption of the argument is that the failure of this language to have a word for sea would indicate that they didn't live near a sea or ocean.  If we add answer choice B then it gives us reason to believe that a languages lack of a word for something doesn't mean there was a lack of that something thereby weakening the argument by directly contradicting the assumption.

The reason answer choice D does not weaken is because having a word for heat would not mean they don't live in a cold climate (especially since it would still be a stimulus you might encounter when you live in a cold climate because you build a fire to stay warm).

When you study you should try to worry more about why the right answer is right and the wrong answer is wrong.  It seems with this post you wanted to argue against the correct response.  As an instructor I encourage you to look at this test differently so that it will be easier to learn from these questions and make better use of them in the future.

Re: Need help LR Oct.99
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2005, 10:09:08 PM »
I agree with Barnum.  As you prep, you want to get into the mind of the testwriter, and learn how they think. 

(Just to restate what Barunum's already said:)

Here, the argument is based upon the idea that, if there is no word for something in the language, than it must not have existed at that time.  Choice B directly contradicts that idea, and therefore strongly weakens the argument. 

The existence of a word for "heat", on the other hand (Choice D), doesn't really hurt the core of the argument.  You could still have heat in the form of fire, etc., even in a cold climate. 

I think you're overthinking the answer choices here.  Just make sure you're understanding the argument itself, and what it's essentially based on, and then make sure you understand why the correct choice is right in the eyes of the LSAT writer.