First, it is important to note that these are both inference questions. Therefore, we aren't looking for anything revolutionary or extreme. We just want something that we know is true based on the passage.
A--This is more tempting than most of the wrong answers, as it seems fairly reasonable to assume that people studying a culture would be familiar with that culture. However, in mid-passage we see some criticism that indicates that these investigators may not be terribly familiar with the cultures they are studying. "Paul Radin contended that investigators rarely spent
enough time with the tribes they were observing." " . . . events that they thought significant were often deemed unimportant by their interviewers. Indeed, the very act of telling their stories could force Native American narrators to distort their cultures, as taboos had to be broken to speak the names of dead relatives crucial to their family stories."
The first part of the sentence quoted above clinches it: "Native Americans recognized that the essence of their lives could not be communicated in English . . ." Since this is mentioned as one of the flaws of the life story approach, we can conclude that the stories *were* being recorded in English, which was not the native language of these informants.
C--The flaw here is the word "primary." This makes the statement too extreme to be supported by the passage. The first few lines make it clear that people were just beginning to get intrested in recording life stories to "supplement their own field observations," which may well have been their primary source of information.
D--"Complete transcriptions" is too extreme. The section quoted for A&B makes it clear that these life stories were edited and otherwise mediated by the interviewers.
E--This is not supported by anything in the passage, and the problems mentioned above make it seems that there were no such guidelines in place.
Note the mildness of this statement--life stories can
be a source of information about how people view the world. This is fairly easy to support. Although there is no specific language about worldview, there is a great deal about conveying culture, and the final sentence helps. "such personal reminiscences and impressions, incomplete as they may be, are likely to throw more light on the working of the mind and emotions than any amount of speculation . . ."
B--*Most* useful would be hard to establish about any claim, and it certainly doesn't make sense in reference to linguistic information, as the accounts appear to have been recorded in English.
C--Again, an extreme answer. The editing & interpretation is mentioned as a problem, not a necessary step.
D--Better than B, as there is some support for this view, but "most useful" is still a tough statement to support. Additionally, the taboo against speaking the names of dead relatives might limit the accounts' usefulness as a source of information about ancestry.
E--This statement is very dismissive, so it would only be true if the author had a clear bias against this type of narrative. (Again, the choice is too extreme.) In fact, the author seems to feel just the opposite, as evidenced by the last sentence, in which the author clearly states the value of these accounts.
I hope this helps! And I hope the folks who posted about this in '04 and '07 already have their MBAs, and are not still studying the GMAT . . .
Dmitry Farber | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | New York
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