Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?

Sangwook on May 29, 2015

Help

Honestly speaking, I could hardly understand what the main point of this passage was even after I read several times. Especially, my jaw was dropped when I read the second paragraph. "Signifier and signified"...what are those about?? Thanks,

2 Replies

Melody on May 29, 2015

The passage is a little tricky due to the advanced vocabulary. I would suggest creating a list for yourself whenever you encounter words you are not familiar with. Write down the word and the definition.

Whenever you encounter a passage that is this dense, you want to always slow it down and break the passage up paragraph by paragraph.

The first paragraph discusses the idea that innovations in language are never actually innovations since they are never "completely new." We are told that when words take on new meaning, they "drag their old meanings along behind them like flickering shadows." Apparently, this is most evident in the language of the contemporary school of literary criticisms whose work is popularly referred to as poststructuralism or deconstruction.

The second paragraph merely gives us an example of words taking on new meanings, i.e. neologism, with "signifier" and "signified," which are used to distinguish from a word and the thing that the word denotes or stands for--as opposed to merely using the words: "word" and "thing." This gives an air of seriousness to the naming process in general.

The third paragraph delves into neologisms further by looking into the use of the term "deconstruction." We know that the most common use of the terms construction and deconstruction are in the building trade; thus, the deconstructionist's decision to borrow these words places certain overtones to the outsider. The first suggestion of this neologism is that "the creation and critical interpretation of literature are not organic but mechanical processes," because the term implies that the text has been put together like a building or a piece of machinery. The third paragraph even states that "the fact that deconstructionists prefer to describe their activities as deconstruction rather than criticism is revealing." We are told that the words "critic" and "criticism" are derived from the Greek word "kritikos" which means "skillful in judging, decisive." The word "Deconstruction," however, has no overtones of skill or wisdom, rather it merely suggests "censure but not change." The passage ends stating that the implication of the word is that the deconstructionist is "both judge and executioner."

So, what's the point of the passage? We discuss the impact of neologisms specifically to touch upon the implications that the term "deconstruction" has placed upon this specific school of criticism. The terms chosen to describe this specific school seem to offer a look into the way they truly are.

Thus, answer choice (A) clearly describes the main point of the passage: "Implicit in the terminology of the school of criticism known as deconstruction are meanings that reveal the true nature of deconstructionist's endeavor."

Hope that clears things up! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Sangwook on June 1, 2015

Thanks a lot!!!^^