Which one of the following, if true, would most cast doubt on the author's interpretation of the study involving the ...

Shiyi on May 11 at 10:15AM

Why is A correct?

Why is A correct? Why is E incorrect?

1 Reply

Ravi on May 11 at 04:58PM

@Shiyi-Zhang,

Happy to help. Let's take a look at (A) and (E).

(E) says, "Prior to their discussions with the researchers, the family
members did not describe their occasional use of Spanish as serving to
emphasize humor or intimacy"

(E) is consistent with the author's take on the study in the passage.
The author states that "often the switches [for rhetorical effect] are
so subtle that the speakers themselves are not aware of them" (lines
49-50). This provides support for the assertion that the family
members would not coin their sporadic usage of Spanish as something
that emphasizes intimacy and humor until some researchers noted that
they sometimes used Spanish. Thus, (E) does not cast doubt on the
author's point, so we can get rid of this answer choice.

(A) says, "In a previous twelve-month study involving the same family
in their home, their conversations were entirely in English except
when situational factors changed significantly."

We're looking to weaken the author's analysis of the study involving
the family's code-switching for rhetorical effect. The author
concludes from the study that certain instances of code-switching
can't be fully explained by situational factors because rhetorical
factors (such as the desire to show humor or intimacy) caused the
family to sometimes use Spanish (lines 51-59). There are a number of
ways in which causal statements can be weakened. One method is to give
an example of the effect without its purported cause, and this is
exactly what (A) provides us. (A) says that for a whole year, the
family spoke in Spanish only when situational factors changed a lot.
This weakens the author's conclusion because it shows the use of
Spanish without the presence of the purported cause (rhetorical
factors), so (A) is the correct answer choice.

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!