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It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will

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It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will  [#permalink]

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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 401, Date: 20-Oct-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details


It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will be extinct within a century. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which monitors endangered languages, says that “with each vanishing language, an irreplaceable element of human thought in its multiform variations is lost forever.” As the world becomes more interconnected, many languages, as well as the culture captured within them, may be lost.

There is a strong link between language and cultural identity. In nineteenth-century Japan, attempts to assimilate the Ainu people into Japanese culture included banning their language; some indigenous languages in both North America and Australia suffered the same fate. Many of those languages are lost or dying. With loss of language comes loss of links to the past and feelings of belonging to a community, which research has linked to mental health. One study of Aboriginal communities found that youth suicide rates dropped to almost zero when the residents had conversational knowledge of native languages.

One problem endangered languages face is lack of official recognition. Residents of a country are expected to know its official language or languages, but many countries do little to recognize minority regional languages. Take Basque, a language spoken in both Spain and France. In France, only French is recognized as an official language. In Spain, the constitution allows for regional recognition of official languages besides Spanish, so in Basque-speaking parts of the country, both Spanish and Basque are official languages. It is not surprising, therefore, that UNESCO cites Basque as “vulnerable” in Spain but “critically endangered” in France.

Consider, in contrast, the case of Finnish. This tongue is not endangered, even though Finland was ruled from the Middle Ages until 1917 by first Sweden and then Russia and, during this period, Swedish was used as the language of administration and government. In 1919, a newly independent Finland constitutionally adopted both Finnish and Swedish as official languages, legally recognizing its native language as important to its burgeoning national identity. As of 2013, Finnish was spoken by 89 percent of the population of Finland.

In order to preserve languages that will otherwise be lost, linguists have proposed creating a database of endangered languages. But how would an academic repository serve the often marginalized groups that speak such languages? While directed toward a noble goal, this project would fail to address the issue of language’s critical role in preserving a sense of cultural identity.


1. According to the passage, Basque is more endangered in France than in Spain because

(A) France has suppressed Basque in order to maintain a French cultural identity
(B) there are more Basque speakers in Spain than in France
(C) Basque has no governmental recognition as an official language in France
(D) multiple languages are recognized as official throughout Spain
(E) Basque-speaking regions in Spain have developed a separate cultural identity



2. Which of the following statements, if true, would support the assertion that Finnish was “important to [Finland’s] burgeoning national identity” (Highlighted)?

(A) Speaking Finnish after 1919 became a point of pride for those in Finland, whereas it previously had often been a source of shame.
(B) Both Swedish and Finnish were taught in Finnish schools after 1919, just as they had been before the new constitution was adopted.
(C) Finland adopted a new flag and national anthem after the new constitution was approved in 1919.
(D) Some people in Finland continued to use Swedish as their preferred language even after Finnish was adopted as an official language.
(E) Those who worked to modernize Finnish in the late nineteenth century so it would achieve broader acceptance favored the western dialect over the eastern.



3. Which of the following statements most clearly exemplifies the aspect of language extinction that UNESCO considers problematic?

(A) As one of the world’s oldest languages, Basque is worth preserving as a living historical artifact as well as a modern spoken language.
(B) Because scholars have been unable to translate the Linear A script, the intellectual capital of the culture that produced it remains inaccessible.
(C) Because Socrates did not leave behind any written works, his ideas have been preserved only through secondhand sources.
(D) Most linguists term Korean a “language isolate” because it is not known to be related to any other languages.
(E) Because it has no equivalent word in many languages, “serendipity” is a particularly difficult term to translate.


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Re: It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2019, 21:55
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1. According to the passage, Basque is more endangered in France than in Spain because:

(A) France has suppressed Basque in order to maintain a French cultural identity No evidence of such "suppression" in the passage.
(B) there are more Basque speakers in Spain than in France The passage does not mention the relative numbers of Basque speakers in these countries.
(C) Basque has no governmental recognition as an official language in France

Correct. Paragraph 3 of the passage states:

"In France, only French is recognized as an official language. In Spain, the constitution allows for regional recognition of official languages besides Spanish, so in Basque-speaking parts of the country, both Spanish and Basque are official languages. It is not surprising, therefore, that UNESCO cites Basque as “vulnerable” in Spain but “critically endangered” in France."

This makes it clear that lack of official recognition in France is what is endangering the Basque language in that country as opposed to Spain, where it has such recognition.


(D) multiple languages are recognized as official throughout Spain While this is true, the question compares the status of Basque in France and Spain - this option speaks nothing of France.
(E) Basque-speaking regions in Spain have developed a separate cultural identity While this may be true, the question compares the status of Basque in France and Spain - this option speaks nothing of France.


2. Which of the following statements, if true, would support the assertion that Finnish was “important to [Finland’s] burgeoning national identity” (Highlighted)

(A) Speaking Finnish after 1919 became a point of pride for those in Finland, whereas it previously had often been a source of shame. Correct. With Finnish, a local language, becoming a source of pride rather than shame, it would become one of the factors associated with a rising sense of nationalism.
(B) Both Swedish and Finnish were taught in Finnish schools after 1919, just as they had been before the new constitution was adopted. Does not place Finnish at a high pedestal linked to national consciousness.
(C) Finland adopted a new flag and national anthem after the new constitution was approved in 1919. Unrelated to the Finnish language.
(D) Some people in Finland continued to use Swedish as their preferred language even after Finnish was adopted as an official language. Same problem as (B)
(E) Those who worked to modernize Finnish in the late nineteenth century so it would achieve broader acceptance favored the western dialect over the eastern. National identity is linked to the language as a whole and not to specific dialects of the language.

3. Which of the following statements most clearly exemplifies the aspect of language extinction that UNESCO considers problematic?

Paragraph 1 quotes the following by UNESCO: “with each vanishing language, an irreplaceable element of human thought in its multiform variations is lost forever.” Therefore, it can be surmised that as per UNESCO, the problem with language extinction is that the thoughts expressed in that language also are lost.

(A) As one of the world’s oldest languages, Basque is worth preserving as a living historical artifact as well as a modern spoken language. Does not give an example of human thought being lost.
(B) Because scholars have been unable to translate the Linear A script, the intellectual capital of the culture that produced it remains inaccessible. Correct. Gives an example of human thought expressed in a language being lost along with the language itself.
(C) Because Socrates did not leave behind any written works, his ideas have been preserved only through secondhand sources. His ideas have still been preserved - does not give an example of ideas being lost.
(D) Most linguists term Korean a “language isolate” because it is not known to be related to any other languages. Does not give an example of human thought being lost.
(E) Because it has no equivalent word in many languages, “serendipity” is a particularly difficult term to translate. Does not give an example of human thought being lost.
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Re: It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2019, 19:40
In Q2 the Second half of answer A is an assumption which i suppose is not to be taken in GMAT. no where it is mentioned in the context that before 1919 it was a shame to speak in Finnish. This i believe makes the whole answer invalid and the second best answer which is C becomes the best choice, if we do not remove the second half of the first answer. Your thoughts?
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Re: It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2019, 21:58
Kunal760 wrote:
In Q2 the Second half of answer A is an assumption which i suppose is not to be taken in GMAT. no where it is mentioned in the context that before 1919 it was a shame to speak in Finnish. This i believe makes the whole answer invalid and the second best answer which is C becomes the best choice, if we do not remove the second half of the first answer. Your thoughts?


Q2 states: Which of the following statements, if true, would support the assertion that Finnish was “important to [Finland’s] burgeoning national identity”

Therefore, our task is not to assess the truthfulness or otherwise of the answer option, but to assume the option to be true and then assess whether it supports the assertion that Finnish was important to national identity. Answer option (A), if true, clearly is supportive of this assertion.

Hope this clarifies.
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Re: It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will   [#permalink] 12 Dec 2019, 21:58

It is believed that half or more of the languages spoken on Earth will

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