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Assignment 1a
Your next writing assignment will be a six-source essay
or an expanded synthesis. This essay will lead you to a
multiple-source synthesis essay, also known as a
literature review.
Question
Imagine that you are working for a department within a
large company. The manager of your department is
considering allowing workers in your department to
telework, in other words, to work from home.
However, your manager is not sure what to expect from
this possible change.
She is not sure what the advantages, pitfalls,
unexpected issues, etc. are of allowing teleworking. For
example, she is not sure whether workers
become less productive because they will be working
from home and not supervised. She also considers the
possibility that workers will become more productive
because they won’t have to worry about traffic and
parking. They won’t have to take large amounts of time
off to get children to a doctor’s appointment, to see a
doctor themselves, to take care of errands, etc. It is
possible that working from home will improve
productivity.
Other questions abound in her mind. For example,
how many days a week should the workers be allowed
to telework? Should they be limited to one day? Two
days? Or should they be unlimited to telework as many
days as they would like per week?
In addition, she is not sure if everyone should be
allowed to telework or if perhaps only people in certain
positions should be allowed to telework. For example,
she knows that the janitor cannot telework. His job
could not be done at a distance. But some individuals
could telework, as their jobs involve meetings and other
functions that could be accomplished at a distance.
Overall, your manager is somewhat at a loss on this
issue.
Your manager has asked you to review the literature on
teleworking. She has asked that you submit a literature
review to her next month on the topic of teleworking.
From what you have gleaned in this class about what a
literature review is, what is your manager asking you to
do?
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Does she want a proposal that supports a new
teleworking arrangement?
Does she want a persuasive paper that takes a
stand against teleworking?
Or does she want something entirely different from
those two options?
Please give your answer in a short paragraph of 75 to
100 words.
Assignment 1b
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Review the two sample student essays here:
WA#1-Sample Language Annotated Bibliography
WA#2-Sample Language Six Source Essay
Compare the two documents.
Review the webpage, Transitions from Purdue OWL
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https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/mechanics/tr
ansitions_and_transitional_devices/index.html
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Answer the following prompts and post your
responses.
As noted, these essays aren’t perfect. The writer is still
working to synthesize the sources. However, the Six-Source
Essay adds some new material and other improvements.
After reading the two articles and the information on
transitions, answer the following questions:
(1) How has the writer altered, or changed, the material
from the Annotated Bibliography to the Six-Source
Essay? (Answer in 1-3 sentences.) (E.g., “The writer has
developed a thesis…; The writer has synthesized
sources…..;The writer has clarified connections…”)
(2) What sources has she added to the Six Source Essay?
What effect do the new source(s) have in the essay? (1-3
sentences) (E.g., “The new sources serve to emphasize the
writer’s point that…; The new sources illustrate specific ideas
in the other articles…..”)
(3) Pick a paragraph section of the Six-Source Essay
where synthesis needs to be improved, and add an
appropriate transitional phrase/sentence.
As you think about synthesis in the Six Source Essay,
consider the use of transitions. Transitions are like signs for
your readers. They give direction and they help to link things
together. Good transitions move the reader from one point to
the next, and they also focus the attention of the reader on
the main idea of the essay. You can use words or phrases as
transitions, but you must be careful to choose words that
indicate the right relationship between ideas. Here are a few
examples of relationships you can indicate with transitions:
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to show addition: and, also, in addition, furthermore.
to give examples: for example, for instance, specifically
to compare: also, likewise, similarly
to contrast: however, on the other hand, yet, although
to summarize or conclude: therefore, in other words
to show time: after, before, during, next, finally,
meanwhile, immediately
to show place or direction: above, below, nearby, close,
far, left, right
to indicate logical relationships: therefore,
consequently, as a result, thus, since, because.
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Assignment: Annotated Bibliography
xxxxxx xxxxxxxx
University of Maryland University College
WRTG391: Advanced Research Writing
xxxxxx xxxx
January 26, 2021
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Assignment: Annotated Bibliography
Bolhuis, J. J., Tattersall, I., Chomsky, N., & Berwick, R. C. (2014). How Could Language Have Evolved?
PLoS Biology, 12(8), 1–6. https://doi-org.ezproxy.umgc.edu/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001934
The authors, Bolhuis et al. take an exclusivist approach and claim that language has a
hierarchical structure that is missing from animal communication systems. The authors
view the way our minds create language as being by “merging” elements which they call
“atoms” (i.e. words, verbs, etc.). Merged elements can both continue indefinitely and
apply to themselves, therefore being nested and in a sense, hierarchical. They further state
that there’s no evidence that animals have conceptual “atoms.” They conclude that given
the universality of language amongst humans, and the assumption that it has not evolved
from animals, that it is this “merge” trait that effectively singlehandedly is responsible for
the evolution of language in humans. They mention sign language as a counter argument
that studying animal vocal communication is essential to understanding the evolution of
language. Also interesting is the point that the unique nature of human language renders a
comparison by shared evolutionary descent impossible. I found this article very useful for
illustrating this particular school of thought and as a contrast to Fitch, 2019.
Donald, M. (2017). Key cognitive preconditions for the evolution of language. Psychonomic
Bulletin & Review, 24(1), 204–208. https://doi-org.ezproxy.umgc.edu/10.3758/s13423-
016-1102-x
The author, Donald claims that development of the use of tools to a degree complex
enough that their use was culturally embedded and cross-generational was what drove the
coevolution of language. Donald further claims that the opposite possibility, that
language came first, is unlikely because the acquisition and use of language requires the
ability to hone an intrinsically complex hierarchical skillset, as in complex toolmaking.
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The author does not seem to support this with any specific evidence, but reiterates his
claims as a conclusion. I don’t think this is well argued but I agree with the premise that
human cognitive capacities have been pushed to greater complexity out of the necessity
to manipulate tools (I would say our environment) as much as interact socially. I would
find this article useful as a jumping off point for this perspective but most likely not as a
primary source.
Ten Cate, C. (2017). Assessing the uniqueness of language: Animal grammatical abilities take
center stage. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(1), 91-96.
https://dx.doi.org/10.3758%2Fs13423-016-1091-9
The author presents the “Strong Minimalist Thesis” that the essence of language is that
we combine, or ‘merge’ elements. An element can be a noun, a verb, an article, a
pronoun, etc.. She claims that the ability of a brain to search concepts and output
behavior is not unique to humans, but that what is unique is the ability to “merge”
concepts. She therefore concludes that arguments about the speech apparatus, such as
location of the larynx and hyoid bone in apes vs. humans, are irrelevant to understanding
the evolution of language. She also concludes that this ability to “merge” could have
evolved very quickly without leaving any fossil evidence, which would be consistent
with the fact there is a gap in the fossil record. I found a weakness to be that Ten Cate
doesn’t deal with how this “merge” concept relates to other ideas about language (e.g.
hierarchical structures, etc.) as well as repeating much of Bolhuis et al.’s earlier paper,
even some diagrams. The writing itself is confusing and scattered and therefore less
likely to be useful to me.
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Tecumseh Fitch, W. (2017). Empirical approaches to the study of language evolution.
Psychomonomic Bulletin & Review, 24, 3-33. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1236-5
The author claims that severe global aphaisics despite not having the capacity to produce
language nevertheless demonstrate complex thought. Broca’s area is the center of an
extensive network where language syntax is generated. This area, and especially it’s
connections to other areas is massively expanded in humans as compared to other
primates. This is true even of newborn, and even premature human babies. He concludes
that this clearly refutes the misconception that we know little to nothing about the neural
mechanisms underlying language. I found the paper very clearly written and thoroughly
referenced, which is useful for further research. One potential weakness is that it goes
into so many other topics that it would be easy to get lost on interesting tangents.
Tecumseh Fitch, W. (2019, November 18). Animal cognition and the evolution of human
language: why we cannot focus solely on communication. Philisophical Transactions of the
Royal Society B, 375: 20190046. http://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0046
The author, Tecumseh Fitch argues that language did not evolve as an extension of great
ape vocal communication but rather cognition more generally and that we share certain
cognitive processes involved in language with various animals in the same way we share
numerous other traits. Apes use species specific unlearned calls, triggered by socialemotional situations. Instead, human language could have evolved from the underlying
framework of animal cognition, which is so sophisticated that no huge chasm would have
to be bridged. Tecumseh Fitch provides a range of evidence that many animal brains have
neural representations of many concepts, and some interesting philosophical discussion
of the nature of concepts. He concludes that language could have evolved as a somewhat
improved tool for cognition: connecting neural representations of concepts. Once linked
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to the existing animal capacity to communicate about emotions, the language of thought
could be used to communicate about concepts. He further concludes that communication
of concepts would have been so useful that language would evolve rapidly. This is an
“Oh yeah, of course!” paper—totally clear once someone else says it. A possible
criticism I would make is that there’s a somewhat subtle philosophical section on
communication of neural representations of objects, rather than direct communication
about objects. This seems valid but I don’t see why it’s essential to the main point.
Overall, this is a useful and thought-provoking paper. The act of a chimp pointing at an
object is qualitatively similar to the act of saying a word—each requiring a mental
representation. The chimp has a neural representation of the object and can demonstrably
reason about it, so language is much more similar to animal cognition than to animal
communication. This raises questions. I think that emotional vocalizing involves rightbrain areas that are analogous to our left-brain language areas. I think this will be useful
as a primary source.

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