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Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words

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Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jun 2018, 19:10
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Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words for snow is an exaggeration, languages really are full of charming quirks that reveal the character of a culture. Dialects of Scottish Gaelic, for instance, traditionally spoken in the Highlands and, later on, in fishing villages, have a great many very specific words for seaweed, as well as names for each of the components of a rabbit snare and a word for an egg that emerges from a hen sans shell. Unfortunately for those who find these details fascinating, languages are going extinct at an incredible clip, - one dies every 14 days - and linguists are rushing around with tape recorders and word lists, trying to record at least a fragment of each before they go. The only way the old tongues will stick around is if populations themselves decide that there is something of value in them, whether for reasons of patriotism, cultural heritage, or just to lure in some language-curious tourists. But even when the general public opinion is for preservation of their linguistic diversity, linguists are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve such a task.

Mathematicians can help linguists out in this mission. To provide a test environment for programs that encourage the learning of endangered local languages, Anne Kandler and her colleagues decided to make a mathematical model of the speakers of Scottish Gaelic. This was an apposite choice because the local population was already becoming increasingly conscious about the cultural value of their language and statistics of the Gaelic speakers was readily available. The model the mathematicians built not only uses statistics such as the number of people speaking the languages, the number of polyglots and rate of change in these numbers but also figures which represent the economic value of the language and the perceived cultural value amongst people. These numbers were substituted in the differential equations of the model to find out the number of new Gaelic speakers required annually to stop the dwindling of the Gaelic population. The estimate of the number determined by Kandler’s research helped the national Gaelic Development Agency to formulate an effective plan towards the preserving the language.

Many languages such as Quechua, Chinook and Istrian Vlashki can be saved using such mathematical models. Results from mathematical equations can be useful in strategically planning preservation strategies. Similarly, mathematical analysis of languages which have survived against many odds can also provide useful insights which can be applied towards saving other endangered languages.


1. The passage is primarily concerned with which of the following?
A. Outlining the various idiosyncrasies of some languages and their diversity.
B. Emphasizing the versatility of Mathematics.
C. Discussing the steps to be taken for saving languages.
D. Describing the importance of languages.
E. Describing the role of Mathematics in preserving languages.

Paragraph 1-- Introduces the topic. Shows concern for languages
Paragraph 2-- Suggests a way to save languages, cites the example of Gaelic
Paragraph 3-- Suggests the same remedy to save other languages

A. Partial scope - covers only Para 1
B. Out of scope - Versatility of mathematics is not discussed in the passage.The passage is about languages
C. Inconsistent - While the need to save languages is identified, the steps are not discussed
D. Out of scope - While the richness of certain languages is discussed in the passage, this is not discussed
in the passage.
E. Correct



2. Which of the following best describes the relation of the first paragraph to the passage as a whole?
A. It makes a general observation to be exemplified.
B. It outlines a process to be analyzed.
C. It identifies a problem the solution of which is to be discussed.
D. It advances an argument to be disputed.
E. It introduces conflicting arguments to be reconciled.

Para 1 lists the problems and outlines the urgency to solve it
A. Inconsistent - Para 1 summarizes the issues with examples. There is no further exemplification in the passage.
B. Out of scope - There is no scope outlined in paragraph 1
C. Correct - Para 1 does outline a problem and the rest of the passage does discuss the solution to the problem
D. Inconsistent - There is no argument that is disputed.
E. Inconsistent - There are no conflicting arguments in the passage.



3. The Author’s conclusion that ‘languages such as Quechua, Chinook, and Istrian Vlashki can be saved using such mathematical models’ (beginning of the last para.) is most weakened if which of the following is found to be true?
A. The speakers of these languages perceive them as being inferior to other non-native languages
B. The mathematical models used for Gaelic language are simplistic and not applicable to these languages
C. Statistics of speakers of these languages have not been properly documented.
D. Patterns in the numbers of the speakers can only be identified by mathematical research.
E. Linguists have shown very little interest in these languages.

Possible weakeners -
i. It will be difficult to build models that will provide accurate results, significantly
diminishing the utility of models.
ii.There are external circumstances which, even in presence of accurate models, will reduce the probability that these languages be saved.
A. Correct - saving a language requires good data and will by natives. If natives are not motivated, then
mathematical models will not help much.
B. Out of scope - As per this choice, we may need a more comprehensive model. This does not imply that mathematical models cannot save these languages.
C. Out of scope - Similar to B, implies that this requires more work but does not reduce our belief in the model's
ability to save the language
D. Strengthener - it states that ONLY mathematics can save the language.
E. Out of scope - The interest of linguists has no bearing on the result


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Re: Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jun 2018, 19:39
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Time Taken: 5 min 50 sec including reading time.
Got Q3 incorrect but understood my mistake.

3. The Author’s conclusion that ‘languages such as Quechua, Chinook, and Istrian Vlashki can be saved using such mathematical models’ (beginning of the last para.) is most weakened if which of the following is found to be true?

A. The speakers of these languages perceive them as being inferior to other non-native languages - Correct.
Applying the mathematical model on Gaelic language was a choice because the local population was already becoming increasingly conscious about the cultural value of their language. If the languages mentioned in the question are perceived as inferior then these languages will not be a good choice for the mathematical model.

B. The mathematical models used for Gaelic language are simplistic and not applicable to these languages - Trap answer. We should not assume that the same mathematical model will be used for the languages mentioned in the question. A new mathematical model could be developed.

C. Statistics of speakers of these languages have not been properly documented. - The mathematical model uses parameters other than statistics of speakers.

D. Patterns in the numbers of the speakers can only be identified by mathematical research. - Opposite.

E. Linguists have shown very little interest in these languages. - Irrelevant.

Answer: A
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Re: Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jul 2018, 11:52
Question-3

Saving of language requires good data and will by natives. If natives are not interested/motivated then mathematical models will not help much. So Answer has to be A for question-3

B. The mathematical models used for Gaelic language are simplistic and not applicable to these languages-- So what. Some other mathematical model can work. We may require more work but it does not mean that mathematical mean CANNOT save these languages.
C. Statistics of speakers of these languages have not been properly documented. -- Similar to B. Requires more work but it doesn't help us in believing that Mathematical model cannot save language.

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Re: Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jul 2018, 11:59
1. The passage is primarily concerned with which of the following? --- Main Point Question
A. Outlining the various idiosyncrasies of some languages and their diversity. ---Discussed only in Paragraph-1
B. Emphasizing the versatility of Mathematics. --- Out of Scope. versatility is not discussed in passage.
C. Discussing the steps to be taken for saving languages.---Out of Scope--Steps is not discussed in passage.
D. Describing the importance of languages.---Only in 1st Paragraph. Passage does discuss about richness of certain languages but it doesn't describe importance of languages in passage.
E. Describing the role of Mathematics in preserving languages-- Central idea of passage. Correct.
Re: Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words &nbs [#permalink] 08 Jul 2018, 11:59
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