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QOTD # 21 Universalism was most prominently set forward by

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QOTD # 21 Universalism was most prominently set forward by [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2016, 07:08
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Universalism was most prominently set forward by the linguists Joseph Greenberg and Noam Chomsky.Chomsky, attempting to account for the celerity with which children grasp the subtle grammatical rules of their native tongues, argued that the best explanation is that the human brain has “modules” capable of generating an entire grammar on the basis of a small set of “generative rules.” We should,therefore expect to find grammatical features shared by all human languages. Greenberg, on the other hand, painstakingly listed the grammatical features shared by multiple languages, positing that such commonalities must reflect innate cognitive biases. Greenberg’s data paid special attention to word order, yielding the hypothesis that some grammatical features of languages must be codependent. Chomsky’s view, in turn,predicts that as languages evolve and change, the grammatical features generated by the same rule should covary. A team led by Russell Gray, a New Zealand psychologist, recently released the results of a massive study that they claim casts doubt on these universalist predictions. Borrowing the technique of phylogenetic analysis from evolutionary biology, Gray and his colleagues reconstructed four family trees containing more than two thousand languages. They found that the co-dependencies in word-order change varied among families, suggesting that each family has evolved its own rules. Moreover, if co-dependencies were common to two families, there was evidence that they had separate origins within each family, thus yielding no evidence of family-invariant rules. Many universalists, however, were unimpressed: that languages vary widely is well-known. But given that some
language is spoken by virtually all human beings, it would be strange if it did not reflect cognitive universals. It is the search for those universals, not the cataloguing of variations, that should take priority.
The passage most likely uses the word borrowing to indicate that

(A) Gray and his colleagues produced research that was not original.(B) linguistics and evolutionary biology have many features in common.
(C) progress in linguistics cannot be carried out through the traditional methods of linguistics.
(D) research methods common to one branch of science can prove fruitful to another.
(E) facts about linguistics can shed light on our understanding of evolution.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
D


Select the sentence in the passage that provides support for the thesis of universalism.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
But given that some language is spoken by virtually all human beings, it would be strange if it did not reflect
cognitive universals


Which of the following can be inferred from the passage?

(A) The thesis of universalism can only be supported through empirical studies.
(B) Some researchers believe that empirical research can undermine theoretical conclusions.
(C) Grammatical features in all languages co-vary.
(D) There is no evidence of the existence of family-invariant rules.
(E) Universalism is the only way to explain the speed at which children acquire language.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
B


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Re: QOTD # 21 Universalism was most prominently set forward by [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2017, 03:35
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Please explain the solution to the last question.
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Re: QOTD # 21 Universalism was most prominently set forward by [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2017, 10:39
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Choice (A) is wrong, since the passage gives examples of non-empirical ways to support universalism. (B) is correct: Gray’s team claims their research casts doubt on Chomsky’s theoretical conclusions. (C) may or may not be true, but the passage only points to evidence of features that do not co-vary. (D) is wrong: you know that Gray’s team found no evidence of the existence of family-invariant rules, but this does not prove that there are no such rules. (E) is wrong: Chomsky argued that universalism is the “best explanation” for the speed at which children learn a language, but that does not mean that no other explanations are possible.


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Re: QOTD # 21 Universalism was most prominently set forward by   [#permalink] 30 Jan 2017, 10:39
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