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#19 - If understanding a word always involves knowing

Barcelona10
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LR3, #19, MUST BE TRUE: Babies understanding words: In this question, I didn’t know how to go about choosing between A and E. A seems to be what you would get if you combined the first conditional, understanding a word requires understanding its dictionary definition, and then, babies don’t know the dictionary definitions of some words they utter. So, some babies do not understand words they utter. What is wrong with this analysis?

I am struggling to see how E is supported—the “some babies” to which this answer refers to that understand all the words they utter might be the select few that understand the dictionary definition. The stimulus never said that ALL babies do not understand the dictionary definitinon of words they utter--it just says SOME babies do not understand the dictionary definition. So, why must it follow that understanding a word does not always involve knowing its dictionary definition. This answer requires assuming that ALL babies do not know the dictionary definitions of ALL of the words they utter—but this is not supported by the stimulus.

Help please?
Steve Stein
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Hey Barcelona10,

That's a good question. Let's take another look at that one--in the final sentence, the author provides that all babies utter some words for which they do not know the dictionary definition.

If, as answer choice E provides, there is even one baby ("some") who understands all of the words he or she says, and we already know from the stimulus that all babies use words for which they don't know the dictionary definition, that means that at least some babies (at least one, to be precise) utter words that they understand but for which they do not know the dictionary definition. This would confirm that understanding a word does not always involve knowing its dictionary definition.

Tough one! Please let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
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Barcelona10
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Thanks for the response.

So what is wrong with A then? A is worded in a relatively weak fashion, and I thought was proved by my explanation of the contrapositive...
David Boyle
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Barcelona10 wrote:Thanks for the response.

So what is wrong with A then? A is worded in a relatively weak fashion, and I thought was proved by my explanation of the contrapositive...


Dear Barcelona10,

One brutal thing here may be the word "individual". A says, "Some babies utter individual words that they do not understand." The word "individual" doesn't occur in the stimulus. So, for all we know, in LSAT Land, every single baby existent may only utter a *minimum* of two words, e.g., "Goo ga", every time he or she speaks.
Okay, those words "goo" and "ga" don't have much dictionary definition, so let's say a baby, call him Stewie, utters, "Egregious antidisestablishmentarianism". That's two words, not just an **individual** word. (!!!)
That rationale I gave is pushing it pretty far, maybe, since "egregious" and "antidisestablishmentarianism" are both individual words, after all. Still, you could argue that since there are at least two words uttered, the baby--as with all babies in this hypothetical universe--is not just uttering an *individual* word. Wheeeew. Maybe some sneaky lawyer thought up this question and answer choices!!
(Cf. the Lay's potato chip slogan, "Betcha can't eat just one." If somebody posited, "Some folks eat individual Lay's potato chips", Lay's could, hypothetically, sue for slander, saying, "No! They always eat at least two chips, not just an individual one!!")

Hope that helps, have a nice evening,

David
beth
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Hello,

I am having trouble diagramming and answering this question correctly. Any help you can provide would be much appreciated!

Thanks,
Beth
KelseyWoods
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Hi Beth!

Diagramming the first sentence can look a little tricky because you have multiple conditional indicators used. To make it simpler, focus on the "If....then...." statement that is really the core of that sentence.

So, basically:

Knowing dictionary definition is necessary for understanding a word ------> Understanding words in definition is necessary for understanding a word

You could abbreviate that however you want but the meaning behind your abbreviation should match the meaning I've outlined.

The last sentence then tells us that babies use some words that they don't know the dictionary definitions of.

We can't combine those two sentences to make any inferences because the author doesn't tell us whether or not babies understand the words they utter.

This is a Must Be True question so we're looking for an answer choice that we can prove with those two sentences.

Answer choice (A) is incorrect because, though we know babies use some words they don't know the definitions of, we don't know whether understanding the dictionary definition is actually necessary for understanding a word. We only know that if knowing the definition IS necessary, then we must also understand the words in the definition. Therefore, we can't make any conclusion about whether babies understand all the words they use or not.

Answer choice (B) also can't be proven with the information we have. Based on those two sentences, we don't know whether people understand words without knowing the definition or whether they just use words they don't understand.

Answer choice (C) is incorrect because even if you can understand words without knowing their definitions, that doesn't mean that babies understand the words they're using. They might not understand the dictionary definition AND the word.

Answer choice (D) is incorrect. Even if you can understand a word without understanding its dictionary definition, that doesn't mean you can understand it without understanding ANY other word.

Answer choice (E) is correct. If babies understand ALL of the words they utter, including the "some" the author told us they utter without knowing the dictionary definition of, then that means that they can understand a word without knowing the dictionary definition.

Hope that helps!

Best,
Kelsey
beth
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Hi Kelsey,

Thank you so much for the quick response. It is very helpful. I was getting hung up trying to make multiple diagrams from the first sentence and missing the core conditional statement.

Thanks again!
Beth
SMR
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Hi!

Can someone please explain to me why (E) is correct and also please explain why (A) is incorrect?

Thank you!
David Boyle
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SMR wrote:Hi!

Can someone please explain to me why (E) is correct and also please explain why (A) is incorrect?

Thank you!


Hello SMR,

Answer A is tempting, but if you diagram the stimulus, you get

always knowing dictionary definition :arrow: understanding words

slash always knowing dictionary definition, subscript babies (babies don't always know dictionary definition)

Since "understanding words" is the necessary, not the sufficient, a baby, even if he/she doesn't know a dictionary definition, could somehow understand the words in the definition. (That may sound stupid, but I'm just following the diagramming. Maybe the "understanding" is on some emotional, non-logical level, maybe?)

So, we don't know babies utter individual words they don't understand. But answer E makes sense, because even if some babies understand, we know from the stimulus that none of them know the dictionary definition.

Hope this helps,
David
SMR
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Hi David,

I'm still a little confused. I can understand why (E) is correct but I don't understand why (A) also couldn't be correct because it seems as if (A) could be an inference based off of the stimulus? The only reason I could think of for why (A) is incorrect is because the statement is too strong for the conditional nature of the stimulus and it does not contain conditionality correct? Should I be looking for an answer choice that contains a conditional statement anytime there is a must be true stimulus with conditionality?

Also, could you please diagram the entire conditional stimulus for me thoroughly without abbreviations. I really appreciate it!

Thanks!