Assignment on passages, English

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Determine whether each of the following passages is an explanation, an argument, or neither, and give reasons for your answer.

(i) It is much easier to buy the Melbourne Age in Sydney than it is to buy the Sydney Morning Herald in Melbourne. This seems unusual, since the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald are newspapers of comparable quality, sold by the same publisher. But it is not so surprising when we consider that most readers are reasonably loyal to the newspapers they read, and that more people move from Melbourne to Sydney than move from Sydney to Melbourne. This passage explains why it is much easier to buy the Melbourne Age in Sydney than it is to buy the Sydney Morning Herald in Melbourne. The second sentence does not contribute to the explanation; rather, it acknowledges that there is something here that needs explaining. The final sentence provides the reasons why the first sentence is true.

(ii) The US government agreed to change the colour of the aid packages being dropped in Afghanistan from yellow to light blue. The yellow packages were similar in appearance to unexploded bomblets from cluster bombs, and a number of children have been killed, and more injured, by mistaking the bomblets for aid packages. It is hoped that such tragedies may be prevented, if the aid packages look clearly different. the passage is best understood as an explanation. It is not trying to convince us that Bin Laden has been described in that way, it is an explanation of why he has been so described.

(iii) Osama bin Laden has been described as the USA's Frankenstein's monster. They manufactured him for their own purposes - He was funded by the CIA in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But now he has turned against them, and is a danger to his own creators. the passage is best understood as an explanation. It is not trying to convince us that Bin Laden has been described in that way, it is an explanation of why he has been so described.

(iv) Gun lobbyists such as the Shooters' Party like to present the issue of gun control as one about security, and about our right to protect our families. We should not be taken in by this rhetoric. Despite their claims about the security of families, it has long been clear from all the studies which have been conducted that having a gun in the home is most likely to endanger members of that household. In the mid 1980s, researchers in the United States examined the circumstances of 300 consecutive shootings which had occurred in private homes. In only 2 out of the 300 cases was the victim an intruder. This is an argument. Note the occurrence of the conclusion indicator "should" in the second sentence. The conclusion is that we should not be taken in by the gun lobby's rhetoric about the security of families.


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