We can learn about the living conditions of a vanished culture by examining its language. Thus, it is likely that th...

on July 24, 2020

Weaken Question

Why does A not weaken the argument here? I eliminated the correct answer here, because B seemed way to general to be the right answer, yet it is. How do I avoid picking trap answers like A?

1 Reply

Shunhe on July 27, 2020

Hi @Anna2020,

Thanks for the question! So (A) might weaken the argument a little bit if you stretch it a bit, but it’s definitely not as much of a weakener as (B). Let’s recap the argument: we’re trying to figure things out about vanished cultures from their languages. And so we’re guessing that the Proto-Indo-European people lived in a cold climate without ocean or sea, since they lack a word for sea but have words for winter, snow, and wolf.

So now we’re looking for something that weakens the argument. Let’s take a look at (A), which tells us that they had a word for “fish,” which obviously implies that they knew what fish were. Here’s the problem: there’s a ton of ways they could’ve known what fish were, and still live far away from the ocean or sea and in a cold climate. Fish can exist in other bodies of water, like ponds and lakes and rivers. They could also be exposed to fish by trading with other cultures. So it’s a pretty big jump to say that just because they had a word for “fish,” they live near the ocean/sea.

(B), however, weakens the argument more. If there are some languages that lack words for prominent elements of the environments of their speakers, then it’s completely possible that the lack of the word “sea” doesn’t mean that they didn’t live near the sea. Since (B) weakens more than (A), it’s the best answer, and therefore the correct one.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions that you might have.