GRE Reading Comprehension
Whether the languages of the ancient American peoples were used for expressing abstract universal concepts can be clearly answered in the case of Nahuatl. Nahuatl, like Greek and German, is a language that allows the formation of extensive compounds. By the combination of radicals or semantic elements, single compound words can express complex conceptual relations, often of an abstract universal character.
The tlamatinime ( "those who know" ) were able to use this rich stock of abstract terms to express the nuances of their thought. They also availed themselves of other forms of expression with metaphorical meaning, some probably original, some derived from Toltec coinages. Of these forms the most characteristic in Nahuatl is the juxtaposition of two words that, because they are synonyms, associated terms, or even contraries, complement each other to evoke one single idea.Used as metaphor, the juxtaposed terms connote specific or essential traits of the being they refer to, introducing a mode of poetry as an almost habitual form of expression.
A main purpose of the passage is to
- A delineate the function of the tlamatinime in Nahuatl society
- B explain the abstract philosophy of the Nahuatl thinkers
- C argue against a theory of poetic expression by citing evidence about the Nahuatl
- D explore the rich metaphorical heritage the Nahuatl received from the Toltecs
- E describe some conceptual and aesthetic resources of the Nahuatl language
Correct Answer: E