Improve your English with English quiz. English Quiz to help you improve your score for exams like Bank, SSC, Railway, UPSC, UPSSSC, CDS, UPTET, KVS, DSSSB and other Government exams.
Directions (1-10): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words have been printed in bold to help you to locate them while answering some of the questions.
Language always carries meanings and references beyond itself: The meanings of a particular language represent the culture of a particular social group. To interact with a language means to do so with the culture which is its reference point. We could not understand a culture without having direct access to its language because of their intimate connection. Language is not a cultural artifact that we learn the way we learn to tell time or how the federal government works. Instead, it is a distinct piece of the biological makeup of our brains. Language is a complex, specialized skill, which develops in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or formal instruction, is deployed without awareness of its underlying logic, is qualitatively the same in every individual, and is distinct from more general abilities to process information or behave intelligently. For these reasons some cognitive scientists have described language as a psychological faculty, a mental organ, a neural system, and a computational module.
But I prefer the admittedly quaint term “instinct.” It conveys the idea that people know how to talk in more or less the sense that spiders know how to spin webs. Web-spinning was not invented by some unsung spider genius and does not depend on having had the right education or on having an aptitude for architecture or the construction trades. Rather, spiders spin spider webs because they have spider brains, which give them the urge to spin and the competence to succeed. Although there are differences between webs and words, I will encourage you to see language in this way, for it helps to make sense of the phenomena we will explore. Thinking of language as an instinct inverts the popular wisdom, especially as it has been passed down in the canon of the humanities and social sciences. Language is no more a cultural invention than is upright posture.
It is not a manifestation of a general capacity to use symbols: a three-year-old, we shall see, is a grammatical genius, but is quite incompetent at the visual arts, religious iconography, traffic signs, and the other staples of the semiotics curriculum. Though language is a magnificent ability unique to Homo sapiens among living species, it does not call for sequestering the study of humans from the domain of biology, for a magnificent ability unique to a particular living species is far from unique in the animal kingdom. Some kinds of bats home in on flying insects using Doppler sonar.
Some kinds of migratory birds navigate thousands of miles by calibrating the positions of the constellations against the time of day and year. In nature’s talent show, we are simply a species of primate with our own act, a knack for communicating information about who did what to whom by modulating the sounds we make when we exhale. Once you begin to look at language not as the ineffable essence of human uniqueness but as a biological adaption to communicate information, it is no longer as tempting to see language as an insidious shaper of thought, and, we shall see, it is not. Moreover, seeing language as one of nature’s engineering marvels – an organ with “that perfection of structure and co-adaptation which justly excites our admiration,” in Darwin’s words – gives us a new respect for your ordinary Joe and the much-maligned English language (or any language).
The complexity of language, from the scientists point of view, is part of our biological birthright; it is not something that parents teach their children or something that must be elaborated in school – as Oscar Wilde said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” A preschoolers tacit knowledge of grammar is more sophisticated than the thickest style manual or the most state-of-the-art computer language system, and the same applies to all healthy human beings, even the notorious syntax-fracturing professional athlete and the, you know, like, inarticulate teenage skateboarder. Finally, since language is the product of a well-engineered biological instinct, we shall see that it is not the nutty barrel of monkeys that entertainer-columnists make it out to be.
Q1. Which of the following statement is/are NOT TRUE according to the passage?
(i)Language is a skill which develops a complex structure in the child’s brain with some formal instructions.
(ii) We are simply a kind of primate with our own act, aninability for communicating information about who did what to whom by modulating the sounds we make when we exhale.
(iii) Web-spinning was not invented by some unsung spider genius and does not depend on having had the right education or on having an aptitude for architecture or the construction trades.
(a) Only (i).
(b) Both (i) and (iii).
(c) Only (iii).
(d) Both (ii) and (i).
(e) All of these.
Q2. According to the passage, which of the following does not stem from popular wisdom on language?
(a) Language is a cultural artifact.
(b) Language is a cultural invention.
(c) Language is learnt as we grow.
(d) Language is unique to Homo sapiens.
(e) Language is a psychological faculty.
Q3. Which of the following can be used to replace the “spiders know how to spin webs” analogy as used by the author?
(a) A kitten learning to jump over a wall
(b) Bees collecting nectar
(c) A donkey carrying a load
(d) A horse running a Derby
(e) A pet dog protecting its owners property
Q4.According to the passage, which of the following is unique to human beings?
(a) Ability to use symbols while communicating with one another.
(b) Ability to communicate with each other through voice modulation.
(c) Ability to communicate information to other members of the species.
(d) Ability to use sound as means of communication.
(e) All of the above.
Q5. According to the passage, complexity of language cannot be taught by parents or at school to children because
(a) children instinctively know language.
(b) children learn the language on their own.
(c) language is not amenable to teaching.
(d) children know language better than their teachers or parents.
(e) children are born with the knowledge of semiotics.
Q6. Which of the following best summarizes the passage?
(a) Language is unique to Homo sapiens.
(b) Language is neither learnt nor taught.
(c) Language is not a cultural invention or artifact as it is made out.
(d) Language is instinctive ability of human beings.
(e) Language is use of symbols unique to human beings.
Directions (7-8): Choose the word/group of words which is MOST SIMILAR in meaning to the word/ group of words printed in bold as used in the passage.
Directions (9-10): Choose the word/group of words which is MOST OPPOSITE in meaning to the word/ group of words printed in bold as used in the passage.
Exp.Refer to paragraph 4, In option (ii)” In nature’s talent show, we are simply a species of primate with our own act, a knack for communicating information about who did what to whom by modulating the sounds we make when we exhale.”, while in option (i) refer to paragraph 1 “Language is a complex, specialized skill, which develops in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or formal instruction”. Hence, the correct answer is option (d)
Exp. The passage states, “For these reasons some cognitive scientists have described language as a psychological faculty, a mental organ, a neural system, and a computational module. But I prefer the admittedly quaint term “instinct””. Combine this extract with “Thinking of language as an instinct inverts the popular wisdom” and we arrive at option (e) as the correct answer option. Option (a): While the passage mentions cultural artifact, it does not relate it to popular wisdom. Hence, option (a) is incorrect. Option (b) is mentioned in the passage but there is no data to suggest that it is not popular wisdom. Option (c) is incorrect because the author has criticized the common view that children learn language as they grow, he instead says that children are born with it. Option (d) is mentioned in the passage and does not invert popular wisdom in any way. Hence, the correct answer is option (e).
Exp. The analogy describes an action which is a critical activity to the species, such that it is instinctive and not something that develops over time. The analogy emphasises the fact that language is instinctive, and not something that is learnt. Options (c), (d) and (e) about a donkey carrying the load, a horse running the derby and a pet dog protecting property, are not instinctive and basic actions attributed to those animals. They have to be trained to perform these functions. Option (a) is about learning, whereas the original example is about instinctively knowing. Hence, the correct answer is option (b).
Exp. At the end of the second paragraph, “a knack for communicating information about who did what to whom by modulating the sounds we make when we exhale”. This ability is unique to humans as mentioned in the passage. This resonates with option (b). Option (a), (c) and (d) are negated as the author has not mentioned or implied in any way that non-humans cannot use symbols, cannot communicate information or do not use sound as a means of communication.
Therefore, option (e) – all of the above – is incorrect. Hence, the correct answer is option (b).
Exp.The passage states, “The complexity of language, from the scientists point of view, is part of our biological birthright; it is not something that parents teach their children or something that must be elaborated in school”. This implies that children are born with an instinctive skill for language and that it cannot be taught. Option (b) is about learning as they grow and not about instinctively knowing language. Option (c) is close, but the question is related to complexity of language. The author is silent on whether language is amenable to teaching or not. Option (d) is irrelevant as there is no comparison between the language skills of teachers/ parents and their children. Option (e) contradicts the passage. “Semiotics” is the study of symbols and signs and the passage states that children are not good at semiotics. Hence, the correct answer is option (a).
Exp. Option (d) succinctly summarizes the crux of the authors arguments. The author is trying to propound the instinctive nature of language. He mentions it is unique to “Homo sapiens” but that is not the crux of the passage making option (a) unsuitable as a summary. Option (b) focuses on a non-critical aspect of language which deals with learning or teaching, which is true yet not central to the discussion. Option (c) is incorrect as it focuses on ancillary aspects. Option (e) has no base in the paragraph, and is a radical statement. Hence, the correct answer is option (d).
Exp. Neural relating to a nerve or the nervous system. Sensual of or arousing gratification of the senses and physical, especially, pleasure.
Exp. Manifestation an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something abstract or theoretical. Illustration the action or fact of illustrating something.
Exp. Iconography the visual images and symbols used in a work of art or the study or interpretation of these. Concealed kept secret; hidden.
Exp. Inarticulate unable to express one’s ideas or feelings clearly or easily. Fluent able to express oneself easily and articulately.
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