Linguist: Most people can tell whether a sequence of words in their own dialect is grammatical. Yet few people who c...

Louis on January 8, 2017

Help explain please

I chose E as my answer but guessed between C and E. Please help explain. Thanks

3 Replies

Mehran on January 15, 2017

@Louis so according to the stimulus, most people can tell whether a spoken sentence in their own language is grammatical yet few people are able to specify the relevant grammatical rules.

Notice this is somewhat of a paradox. People can tell you whether a spoken sentence is grammatical but they cannot tell you why.

So what is the principle underlying these statements? Knowing that something is correct doesn't necessarily mean that people know why it is correct.

(C) says that some people can identify any given piece of music is a waltz but the majority of these people cannot state the defining characteristics of a waltz.

This is the correct answer. In the stimulus, people can tell us if a sentence they hear is grammatical but they do not know the relevant grammatical rules that make it so. In (C), people can tell if a piece of music is a waltz but they cannot tell you what makes a waltz a waltz (i.e. the defining characteristics of a waltz).

(E) does not illustrate this same principle, "Quite a few people know the rules of chess, but only a small number of them can play chess very well."

Notice that this is not a paradox at all and does not illustrate the principle underlying the linguist's statements.

Hope that helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Julie on July 29 at 02:18PM

could you help explain why choices (A), (B), and (D) can be eliminated? Thanks!

Victoria on August 9 at 08:12PM

Hi @Julie-V,

The stimulus tells us that "most people can tell whether a sequence of words in their own dialect is grammatical." However, "few people who can do so are able to specify the relevant grammatical rules."

So, what is the principle underlying these statements? Knowing that something is correct does not necessarily mean that people know why it is correct.

A is incorrect because it presents us with two different skills: some people can write good narrative descriptions, but these same people cannot also necessarily compose good poems.

B is incorrect because it compares two different groups of people, claiming that engineers who apply principles must know them better than the physicists who discovered them.

D is incorrect because it does not address correctness. It simply states that those who most enjoy their journeys may not also be the best at describing them to others.

Hope this is helpful! Please let us know if you have any further questions.