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

1 Reply

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.