Published on March 13, 2014
A conclusion that is drawn from evidence Evidence (news articles, statistics, studies, surveys, expert opinion, etc.) therefore, the claim must be true Example: Steven Pinker’s “What Our Language Habits Reveal” Language has a similar structure as that of human thought therefore, language is a window into the human mind
Main claim = thesis statement The overall argument you wish to prove Answers questions such as: So what’s your point? Where do you stand on the issue? Located at the end of the introduction
Claims that support the main claim/thesis statement Answers questions such as: How does this prove the thesis statement is correct? How does the evidence support the thesis statement? How does this relate to the thesis statement? Located within the body of the essay
Steven Pinker’s “What Our Language Habits Reveal” Main claim/thesis statement “[L]anguage is not so much a creator or shaper of human nature, so much as a window onto human nature.” Sub-claim #1 Language is a window into “the cognitive machinery with which we conceptualize the world.” Examples: language structure as metaphorical and based on similar structure as human thought Sub-claim #2 Language is a window into “the relationship types that govern human social interaction.” Examples: veiled speech used to negotiate relationships
Main claim/thesis statement Although Pagel makes a convincing case regarding language’s transformative power, his logic is flawed since it is confined to verbal language; it is not verbal language but written language that has enabled the technological growth of the human species. Sub-claim #1 Pagel defines ‘language’ as verbal language. Pagel states, “your language relies on pulses, discrete pulses of sound […] we know that there are words we cannot use, phrases we cannot say, because if we do so, we might be accosted, jailed, or even killed. And all this from a puff of air emanating from our mouths.” His discussion of language is confined to the verbal, for language is ‘pulses of sound’ and ‘a puff of air emanating from our mouths.’ Sub-claim regarding verbal language Evidence supporting sub-claim Sub-claim #2 While other species may not have human language, many species have a method of verbal communication, which can even be similar to human verbal language. For example, studies show that “dolphin whistle repertoires contain higher-order internal structure or organizational complexity. This suggests their whistle ‘language’ contains elements loosely analogous to grammar or syntax in human language” (Dorminey). Verbal communication, then, is not a uniquely human gift as Pagel claims. Sub-claim regarding verbal language Evidence supporting sub-claim
When analyzing another’s argument, look for the author’s main claim and sub-claims Do you agree with the main claim? Does the evidence support the sub-claims? Why or why not? Discuss in your essay.
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