Certain minor peculiarities of language are used unconsciously by poets. If such peculiarities appear in the works o...

on January 8 at 08:18PM

Answer choice (c)

Could you explain why (c) is the correct answer and not the other answer choices please? Thank you!

1 Reply

Ravi on January 13 at 06:35PM

@Boram,

Happy to help. We're told that if minor peculiarities of language are
used in the works of more than one poet, they're likely to reflect the
language in common use during the poets' time. We're also told that if
minor peculiarities of language appear in the work of only one poet,
they're likely to be personal idiosyncrasies.

From these premises, the author concludes that minor peculiarities of
language can provide a fingerprint that allows scholars, by comparing
a poem of previously unknown authorship to the work of a particular
known poet, to identify a given poem as the work of a particular poet.

Would that test be fool-proof, though? What if other poets created
works that contained the same idiosyncrasy. The test proposed by the
author measures a poem from an unknown poet and compares it to the
work of a known poet.

If we assume that the minor peculiarities of language of in these two
poems are a match, this will not necessarily tell us whether the
actual reason for the match is because the unknown poet is the same
person as the established poet, or because they are two different
people who were using the same minor peculiarities of language in
their work.

The question asks us to select an answer choice that shows why the
test described in the stimulus never provides conclusive proof of the
authorship of any poem.

Answer A is incorrect because whether or not there are stringent
parameters for determining when to analyze the peculiarities of
different poems, this gives us no description for why the test in the
stimulus would never provide conclusive proof of the authorship of any
poem, so we can get rid of it.

Answer B is incorrect because it doesn't have to deal with the test
described in the stimulus. The author's argument isn't that the same
minor peculiarities appear in every work of a given poet; rather, the
author's argument is that minor peculiarities can be used to identify
a given poet. We can get rid of this answer choice.

Answer C says, "A peculiarity of language in a poem of unknown
authorship could be evidence either that the poem was written by the
one author known to use that peculiarity or that the peculiarity was
not unique to that author." This is exactly the flaw in the test we
had identified above. As we figured out, a minor peculiarity of
language may or may not indicate that a poem is the work of only one
poet. It does not provide us with conclusive proof. This is our answer
choice.

Answer D is incorrect because we are not concerned with the relative
weight that minor peculiarities contribute to the literary effect of a
poem. We're concerned with choosing an answer that shows how the test
described in the stimulus is flawed and doesn't allow us to draw
conclusions. This answer can be eliminated.

Answer E is incorrect because we are not concerned with whether or not
some minor peculiarities of language were conscious or unconscious;
what we're concerned with is if these minor peculiarities can be used
to identify poets as the authors of certain poems.

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!