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QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably

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QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably [#permalink]

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 208: Sentence Correction


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According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably not a direct rendering of speech, but was more likely to begin as a separate and distinct symbolic system of communication, and only later merged with spoken language.

(A) was more likely to begin as
(B) more than likely began as
(C) more than likely beginning from
(D) it was more than likely begun from
(E) it was more likely that it began


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QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 06:04
Let's start by putting (A) and (B) side-by-side:

Quote:
(A) was more likely to begin as
(B) more than likely began as

The verb tense in (A) is really confusing, and it's definitely not our best option. We have three different verbs in the sentence, all of which describe "the earliest writing", which:

  • ..."was probably not a direct rendering of speech"
  • "...was more likely to begin..."
  • and "...later merged with spoken language."

That middle piece is wacky. All three of these things happened in the past, and need to be in the same version of past tense. So the underlined portion is odd: why would we say "was more likely to begin", when we could just say "more likely began as"? "Begin" is in present tense (i.e., a general characteristic), and "was more likely to begin" doesn't make much sense -- it's almost as if the earliest writing had some probabilistic quality or something, and there was a good chance that it would eventually begin "as a separate and distinct symbolic system."

That's so much messier than (B), which just says that according to scholars, it's likely that the earliest writing actually began "as a separate and distinct symbolic system."

So we can get rid of (A), and keep (B).

Quote:
(C) more than likely beginning from

There are two little problems with (C), particularly when we compare it with (B).

First, I don't know why we would switch the verb "began" to the participle "beginning", considering that the rest of the sentence features nice, simple, past tense verbs ("the earliest writing was... and later merged..." So in this sense, (B) is clearly better than (C).

The other issue is that it doesn't really make sense to say that the earliest writing was beginning "from a separate and distinct symbolic system." The earliest writing didn't evolve from some other separate and distinct system; the earliest writing WAS the separate and distinct symbolic system.

So we can ditch (C).

Quote:
(D) it was more than likely begun from

We could make a lazy argument that (D) is wordy and awkward, and that's not necessarily wrong. (D) definitely sounds like crap, and I don't think that you could ever use the phrase "was begun" in a correct sentence. At least I can't think of one.

The more concrete argument is that that parallelism is wrong in (D):

    "...the earliest writing was probably not a direct rendering of speech, it was more than likely begun from a separate and distinct symbolic system of communication, and only later merged with spoken language."

So we have a full independent clause, then another full independent clause, then an "and" followed by a verb phrase ("merged with spoken language"). That's not OK, partly because you can't just separate two independent clauses with a comma (a comma splice, if you like jargon), and partly because the "and" is followed by a verb phrase -- so the other parallel elements should also be verb phrases, not full clauses.

Plus, "from" doesn't make sense, for the same reasons as answer choice (C). See above for more on that issue.

Anyway, (D) is out.

Quote:
(E) it was more likely that it began

(E) features the same parallelism issue as (D), and that's enough by itself to eliminate (E).

Plus, there's no preposition after "began", so that tweaks the meaning: "[the earliest writing systems] began a separate and distinct symbolic system..." Huh? The writing system didn't "begin" a new symbolic system; it WAS a separate symbolic system, so we'd need to say that it "began as" a separate system.

And for bonus points, I'm not sure that there's a good reason to include an extra "it" at the beginning of the underlined portion -- it's a non-referential pronoun (classic example: "it is raining" is an acceptable sentence, but the "it" has no referent), and that's not necessarily wrong, but there's no reason to use that extra pronoun at all in this particular sentence.

So (E) is out, and we're left with (B).
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Re: QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 06:09
souvik101990 wrote:
According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably not a direct rendering of speech, but was more likely to begin as a separate and distinct symbolic system of communication, and only later merged with spoken language.

(A) was more likely to begin as
(B) more than likely began as
(C) more than likely beginning from
(D) it was more than likely begun from
(E) it was more likely that it began

IMHO (B) for the highlighted errors in other options...
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Re: QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 12:58
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This construction tests idiomatic usage of
'Not X But Y' where X and Y must be in parallel construction.

X: "a direct rendering of speech" is a phrase and hence Y cannot be a clause.

So, choices A,D and E are out.

Choice C is incorrect because it is using present participle 'begining' instead of past participle 'began'.

Hence, IMO Correct Ans is B

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QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jan 2018, 07:04
A five second scan clearly shows idiom and parallelism issue
A. Choice doesn't use than with more eliminate
B. Correct
C. ing form not preferred
D. Same as C
E. Same as C

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Last edited by StrugglingGmat2910 on 25 Jan 2018, 07:37, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably [#permalink]

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New post 22 Feb 2018, 20:34
GMATNinja wrote:
Let's start by putting (A) and (B) side-by-side:

Quote:
(A) was more likely to begin as
(B) more than likely began as

The verb tense in (A) is really confusing, and it's definitely not our best option. We have three different verbs in the sentence, all of which describe "the earliest writing", which:

  • ..."was probably not a direct rendering of speech"
  • "...was more likely to begin..."
  • and "...later merged with spoken language."

That middle piece is wacky. All three of these things happened in the past, and need to be in the same version of past tense. So the underlined portion is odd: why would we say "was more likely to begin", when we could just say "more likely began as"? "Begin" is in present tense (i.e., a general characteristic), and "was more likely to begin" doesn't make much sense -- it's almost as if the earliest writing had some probabilistic quality or something, and there was a good chance that it would eventually begin "as a separate and distinct symbolic system."

That's so much messier than (B), which just says that according to scholars, it's likely that the earliest writing actually began "as a separate and distinct symbolic system."

So we can get rid of (A), and keep (B).

Quote:
(C) more than likely beginning from

There are two little problems with (C), particularly when we compare it with (B).

First, I don't know why we would switch the verb "began" to the participle "beginning", considering that the rest of the sentence features nice, simple, past tense verbs ("the earliest writing was... and later merged..." So in this sense, (B) is clearly better than (C).

The other issue is that it doesn't really make sense to say that the earliest writing was beginning "from a separate and distinct symbolic system." The earliest writing didn't evolve from some other separate and distinct system; the earliest writing WAS the separate and distinct symbolic system.

So we can ditch (C).

Quote:
(D) it was more than likely begun from

We could make a lazy argument that (D) is wordy and awkward, and that's not necessarily wrong. (D) definitely sounds like crap, and I don't think that you could ever use the phrase "was begun" in a correct sentence. At least I can't think of one.

The more concrete argument is that that parallelism is wrong in (D):

    "...the earliest writing was probably not a direct rendering of speech, it was more than likely begun from a separate and distinct symbolic system of communication, and only later merged with spoken language."

So we have a full independent clause, then another full independent clause, then an "and" followed by a verb phrase ("merged with spoken language"). That's not OK, partly because you can't just separate two independent clauses with a comma (a comma splice, if you like jargon), and partly because the "and" is followed by a verb phrase -- so the other parallel elements should also be verb phrases, not full clauses.

Plus, "from" doesn't make sense, for the same reasons as answer choice (C). See above for more on that issue.

Anyway, (D) is out.

Quote:
(E) it was more likely that it began

(E) features the same parallelism issue as (D), and that's enough by itself to eliminate (E).

Plus, there's no preposition after "began", so that tweaks the meaning: "[the earliest writing systems] began a separate and distinct symbolic system..." Huh? The writing system didn't "begin" a new symbolic system; it WAS a separate symbolic system, so we'd need to say that it "began as" a separate system.

And for bonus points, I'm not sure that there's a good reason to include an extra "it" at the beginning of the underlined portion -- it's a non-referential pronoun (classic example: "it is raining" is an acceptable sentence, but the "it" has no referent), and that's not necessarily wrong, but there's no reason to use that extra pronoun at all in this particular sentence.

So (E) is out, and we're left with (B).


Hi GMATNinja,
In option D,

"...the earliest writing was probably not a direct rendering of speech, but it was more than likely begun from a separate and distinct symbolic system of communication, and only later merged with spoken language."
I think you might have missed the but after the comma.

1. Since ",but" is joining two independent clauses, there is no comma splice here. Also, isn't the pronoun it that follows but redundant?
Since, the independent clauses (the earliest writing was probably not a direct rendering of speech, but it was more than likely begun from a separate and distinct symbolic system of communication) have the same subject. Can we reject option because of redundancy due to repetition of subject in the independent clauses ?

2. For Not X, But Y parallelism --> Can we reject option A, D and E based on parallelism(Not X , but Y) ?

https://gmatclub.com/forum/qotd-as-crim ... 58304.html --> think of “not/but” as a parallelism trigger, not an idiom.

Whenever Not X , But Y appears in a sentence , should we ensure that X and Y are parallel ?
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Re: QOTD: According to scholars, the earliest writing was probably   [#permalink] 22 Feb 2018, 20:34
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