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#41435
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 mepstlsat24
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#43431
Trying to determine between A and B. Is B wrong because essentially its saying he probably didn't read the English play and he doesn't know Greek so he must have read it in Latin?

And for A being right- is it because just because the phrases were widely used doesn't mean he knew it through a Latin translation? How is one supposed to make this determination? It really feels like A strengthens it.
 Adam Tyson
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#43447
Thanks for asking, Meps! Let's talk about the stem here for a moment. This question asks us which of the answers does least to strengthen the argument that Shakespeare probably came to know Alcestis from a Latin translation. That means the correct answer will do one of three things: 1) Weaken the argument; 2) have no impact on the argument; or 3) strengthen the argument in a way that is clearly less helpful than the other 4 answers.

Number 1 above happens, and when it does the answer should be fairly obvious unless the student has misunderstood the question stem. It's not necessary that we look for a weaken answer to a Strengthen-Except question, but it would of course be a good answer if we found it!

Number 3 almost never happens. The authors are hedging when they ask which one strengthens the least. They aren't often testing your ability to weight the merits of two strengthen answers and determine which one does more or less than the other. If the correct answer to a Strengthen-Except answer seems to strengthens the argument, it is usually only because the student is helping the answer by supplying outside information or making assumptions not supported by the stimulus. Don't help the answer! Take it at face value, and it either strengthens or else it does not.

Number 2 is what we are almost always looking for in these questions. The correct answer usually has no impact on the argument, neither helping nor hurting in any way. The same is true of Weaken-Except questions. For this reason, on this type of question it is usually best to prephrase and focus on the WRONG answers, the ones that strengthen the argument. If we can see that an answer strengthens, it's out, and we should find ourselves looking at one contender that simply does not strengthen.

Answer B fits the strengthen bill nicely by suggesting that Shakespeare probably did NOT rely on an English language translation. The argument isn't causal, but this answer works an awful lot like a causal strengthen answer that eliminates a possible alternate cause. If the only English translation differed substantially from the original in ways that Shakespeare's play did not (meaning that his play had similarities to Alcestis that could not have been based on the English translation), then the English language version is probably not where he got his source material. It is eliminated as a possible alternate source of his information.

Answer A does nothing. So what if Shakespeare often used Latin phrases "that were widely used in England" in his plays? The fact that they were widely used means they were part of the English vernacular of the time, and tells us nothing about his ability to read or understand Latin or about where he got his information about Alcestis. Hey, I say "in vino veritas" and "E Pluribus Unum" all the time, but that doesn't make me a Latin scholar, just a real hit with the ladies and a blast at parties! If the Latin phrases he used were UNCOMMON and little known to the general population, that might suggest that he had some Latin education, and that might strengthen the argument, but using common phrases tells us nothing at all. Their being common eliminates their usefulness in this context.

In any event, if we were to approach this answer like number 3 above, we should still pick A as the one that helps the least, because B so clearly eliminates that alternate source (which, if it were available, would make a ton of sense as the purported source), and A tells us only that he has some grasp of a tiny sampling of Latin. Remember to pick the best answer, Meps, and in this case that is the one that helps the least!

Keep at it, and keep asking us good questions!
 VamosRafa19
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#82852
Hi, I understand the reasoning for A above. I picked A in my first round, then picked D on blind review. The reason for D - is that it relies on multiple things: 1. Latin would have been a mandatory subject (doesn't mean he took it, maybe had an exception), 2. it was probable that he attended grammar school, so it's not even sure that he attended, 3. this probability depended on this father's standing in the community (what if his standing tanked after 1 year). All of this on top of the fact that even if he did attend grammar school where Latin was a mandatory subject - it could have only been for one year, maybe they just focused on Latin basics. Does that mean he knew Latin well enough to to read a play and base his own from it? This to me made this a better answer than A - which at least gives me as a fact that Shakespeare used Latin at some point, and knew what some phrases meant. I didn't think it was great, but it felt stronger than D. Can someone chime in on why A is better?
 frk215
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#83091
Hi! Don't know how much I can help but I'll give it a shot.

For D) the use of the term probably directly translated as likely for me. So I interpreted D as, it is likely that Shakespeare went to a school where he would've had to learn Latin. This introduces many opportunities for the argument to strengthened just through potentiality. For example, he potentially could've 1. learned the play while in school! Remember, he "came to know Euripides’ play through a Latin translation" which could easily be taken to mean he got the general ideas from this play. He doesn't need to be a Latin scholar to get strong inspiration from the play. 2. learned enough latin that when he did come across this play, he was able to make sense of it enough to create his own similar play.

There's no reason in the answer choice or in the stimulus for us to assume or infer that it was 1. only for one year 2. standing could've tanked 3. maybe he had an exception from latin. You're right that it's not extremely, unstoppably a strengthen answer. But I think this is a great example of strengthening to a degree, of the opening up of opportunities that don't have to be taken, but totally could. That strengthens to some degree.

Then there's A. Keep in mind, I got this question wrong on my first try too so definitely have some salt handy, but the way I saw A during revisions is that if latin phrases were very widespread, then the fact that Shakespeare is using Latin in his plays means absolutely nothing. It was literally just a colloquial term. Consider the phrase déjà vu. That's a french phrase that I've heard in english a half billion times, and most people I know know exactly what it means. Is that evidence that they know french or that I know french? I also know what the word cliché means, but would someone hear me say that and go DUDE bet you could write your own play off of a french play?

And that brings me to the crux of my point. Maybe I absolutely do know french. And every person I just described also knows french. But maybe they don't. The evidence that I've provided (knowing a could of french words that is "widely used") is by no means sufficient. Does it allow for the general possibility that I still know french? Absolutely. But that's it. There is a chance that I know french. With D, it is likely that I was in a situation where I 1. had to learn french 2. came in contact with french plays as learning tools. And it's the difference in strength between hey this could happen and hey this is likely to happen.

Hope that helps, buddy, but again a grain of salt is highly advised.
 Adam Tyson
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#83390
With a Strengthen question, we must do as the stem dictates and accept every answer choice as true, VamosRafa19. That means that we review answer D and accept, without reservation or assumptions not provided in that answer choice, that his father's standing was such that Bill probably did go to such a school and that Latin would have been mandatory there. Don't challenge any of that information, because you are supposed to take it as true.

Second, a Strengthen answer doesn't have to prove anything. It only has to help. Does going to a school where you must study Latin help support the idea that Bill Shakes read the play in Latin? Absolutely, even if only a little, even if that is only a probability and not a guarantee. Even if Bill didn't do well. Don't put so much pressure on the answer to make it do more than help! And don't bring in outside information to challenge the answer, like maybe he only finished one year and didn't get around to taking, or finishing, that course. When you find yourself working that hard to help, or hurt, an answer, you are doing way too much work! Take the answer on its face, accept it as true, and see what it does, with nothing added or taken away.

frk215, I love your use of those French examples, which are way better than my Latin ones earlier in this thread! The fact that they are in common use in an English-speaking society means they do nothing - zero, zilch, nada - to support a claim that someone using them understands that language.
 MillsV
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#83984
Hi - If answer B had said “Latin” in this question instead of “English” would this answer have been correct?

Also, I just don’t understand how A doesn’t do anything to strengthen the argument but C does. To me, C doesn’t really do much more than A, or they seem comparable.

Thank you
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 KelseyWoods
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#84011
Hi MillsV!

It's hard to speculate about whether an answer choice would be correct if it was altered because it always depends on the other options provided and if one answer choice was different, it's likely that the other options would be different as well. But if answer choice (B) stated that the only Latin version of Alcestis available in Shakespeare’s time differed drastically from the original in ways The Winter’s Tale does not, it would weaken the argument. If The Winter's Tale was more like the original Greek version than the Latin version, then it would cast doubt on the conclusion that Shakespeare modeled his play off of the Latin version.

Answer choice (A) just states that Shakespeare used Latin phrases that were "widely used in England." Just because he's using common Latin phrases, that doesn't mean he knows enough Latin to read and understand a full play in Latin. For example, the Latin phrase "carpe diem" is widely used in the U.S. today. But is everyone who posts that phrase to their Instagram fluent in Latin? Probably not! Answer choice (A) isn't really adding anything to the argument because all it's telling us is that Shakespeare knew the same Latin phrases that everyone else knew, but not that he was actually fluent enough to read a full play in Latin.

Answer choice (C), on the other hand, states that the Latin translation of Alcetis was faithful to the original and widely available. That means that it would have been easy for Shakespeare to obtain a copy of this translation and, since it was faithful to the original, it's a good contender for the version of the play that Shakespeare actually read and used to model his own play after. Compare it to answer choice (B). The English adaptation not being faithful to the original strengthens that Shakespeare used the Latin version instead. The Latin translation being faithful to the original strengthens this in a similar way.

Hope this helps!

Best,
Kelsey
 MillsV
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#84073
Thanks Kelsey - I appreciate it so much

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