GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: CHP

The common belief of some linguists that each language is a perfect vehicle for the thoughts of the nation speaking it is in some ways the exact counterpart of the conviction of the Manchester school of economics that supply and demand will regulate everything for the best. Just as economists were blind to the numerous cases in which the law of supply and demand left actual wants unsatisfied, so also many linguists are deaf to those instances in which the very nature of a language calls forth misunderstandings in everyday conversation, and in which, consequently, a word has to be modified or defined in order to present the idea intended by the speaker: "He took his stick-no, not John's, but his own." No language is perfect, and if we admit this truth, we must also admit that it is not unreasonable to investigate the relative merits of different languages or of different details in languages.

Question List: 1 2 3

The primary purpose of the passage is to

  • A analyze an interesting feature of the English language
  • B refute a belief held by some linguists
  • C show that economic theory is relevant to linguistic study
  • D illustrate the confusion that can result from the improper use of language
  • E suggest a way in which languages can be made more nearly perfect

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