CAT 2021 Slot 3


The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

Starting in 1957, [Noam Chomsky] proclaimed a new doctrine: Language, that most human of all attributes, was innate. The grammatical faculty was built into the infant brain, and your average 3-year-old was not a mere apprentice in the great enterprise of absorbing English from his or her parents, but a “linguistic genius.” Since this message was couched in terms of Chomskyan theoretical linguistics, in discourse so opaque that it was nearly incomprehensible even to some scholars, many people did not hear it. Now, in a brilliant, witty and altogether satisfying book, Mr. Chomsky's colleague Steven Pinker . . . has brought Mr. Chomsky's findings to everyman. In “The Language Instinct” he has gathered persuasive data from such diverse fields as cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology and speech therapy to make his points, and when he disagrees with Mr. Chomsky he tells you so. . . .

For Mr. Chomsky and Mr. Pinker, somewhere in the human brain there is a complex set of neural circuits that have been programmed with “super-rules” (making up what Mr. Chomsky calls “universal grammar”), and that these rules are unconscious and instinctive. A half-century ago, this would have been pooh-poohed as a “black box” theory, since one could not actually pinpoint this grammatical faculty in a specific part of the brain, or describe its functioning. But now things are different. Neurosurgeons [have now found that this] “black box” is situated in and around Broca’s area, on the left side of the forebrain. . . .

Unlike Mr. Chomsky, Mr. Pinker firmly places the wiring of the brain for language within the framework of Darwinian natural selection and evolution. He effectively disposes of all claims that intelligent nonhuman primates like chimps have any abilities to learn and use language. It is not that chimps lack the vocal apparatus to speak; it is just that their brains are unable to produce or use grammar. On the other hand, the “language instinct,” when it first appeared among our most distant hominid ancestors, must have given them a selective reproductive advantage over their competitors (including the ancestral chimps). . . .

So according to Mr. Pinker, the roots of language must be in the genes, but there cannot be a “grammar gene” any more than there can be a gene for the heart or any other complex body structure. This proposition will undoubtedly raise the hackles of some behavioral psychologists and anthropologists, for it apparently contradicts the liberal idea that human behavior may be changed for the better by improvements in culture and environment, and it might seem to invite the twin bugaboos of biological determinism and racism. Yet Mr. Pinker stresses one point that should allay such fears. Even though there are 4,000 to 6,000 languages today, they are all sufficiently alike to be considered one language by an extraterrestrial observer. In other words, most of the diversity of the world’s cultures, so beloved to anthropologists, is superficial and minor compared to the similarities. Racial differences are literally only “skin deep.” The fundamental unity of humanity is the theme of Mr. Chomsky's universal grammar, and of this exciting book.

Question 1

Which one of the following statements best summarises the author’s position about Pinker’s book?

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Question 2

According to the passage, all of the following are true about the language instinct EXCEPT that:

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Question 3

On the basis of the information in the passage, Pinker and Chomsky may disagree with each other on which one of the following points?

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Question 4

From the passage, it can be inferred that all of the following are true about Pinker’s book, “The Language Instinct”, EXCEPT that Pinker:

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The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

Today we can hardly conceive of ourselves without an unconscious. Yet between 1700 and 1900, this notion developed as a genuinely original thought. The “unconscious” burst the shell of conventional language, coined as it had been to embody the fleeting ideas and the shifting conceptions of several generations until, finally, it became fixed and defined in specialized terms within the realm of medical psychology and Freudian psychoanalysis.

The vocabulary concerning the soul and the mind increased enormously in the course of the nineteenth century. The enrichments of literary and intellectual language led to an altered understanding of the meanings that underlie time-honored expressions and traditional catchwords. At the same time, once coined, powerful new ideas attracted to themselves a whole host of seemingly unrelated issues, practices, and experiences, creating a peculiar network of preoccupations that as a group had not existed before. The drawn-out attempt to approach and define the unconscious brought together the spiritualist and the psychical researcher of borderline phenomena (such as apparitions, spectral illusions, haunted houses, mediums, trance, automatic writing); the psychiatrist or alienist probing the nature of mental disease, of abnormal ideation, hallucination, delirium, melancholia, mania; the surgeon performing operations with the aid of hypnotism; the magnetizer claiming to correct the disequilibrium in the universal flow of magnetic fluids but who soon came to be regarded as a clever manipulator of the imagination; the physiologist and the physician who puzzled over sleep, dreams, sleepwalking, anesthesia, the influence of the mind on the body in health and disease; the neurologist concerned with the functions of the brain and the physiological basis of mental life; the philosopher interested in the will, the emotions, consciousness, knowledge, imagination and the creative genius; and, last but not least, the psychologist.

Significantly, most if not all of these practices (for example, hypnotism in surgery or psychological magnetism) originated in the waning years of the eighteenth century and during the early decades of the nineteenth century, as did some of the disciplines (such as psychology and psychical research). The majority of topics too were either new or assumed hitherto unknown colors. Thus, before 1790, few if any spoke, in medical terms, of the affinity between creative genius and the hallucinations of the insane . . .

Striving vaguely and independently to give expression to a latent conception, various lines of thought can be brought together by some novel term. The new concept then serves as a kind of resting place or stocktaking in the development of ideas, giving satisfaction and a stimulus for further discussion or speculation. Thus, the massive introduction of the term unconscious by Hartmann in 1869 appeared to focalize many stray thoughts, affording a temporary feeling that a crucial step had been taken forward, a comprehensive knowledge gained, a knowledge that required only further elaboration, explication, and unfolding in order to bring in a bounty of higher understanding. Ultimately, Hartmann’s attempt at defining the unconscious proved fruitless because he extended its reach into every realm of organic and inorganic, spiritual, intellectual, and instinctive existence, severely diluting the precision and compromising the impact of the concept.

Question 5

Which one of the following statements best describes what the passage is about?

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Question 6

“The enrichments of literary and intellectual language led to an altered understanding of the meanings that underlie time-honored expressions and traditional catchwords.” Which one of the following interpretations of this sentence would be closest in meaning to the original?

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Question 7

Which one of the following sets of words is closest to mapping the main arguments of the passage?

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Question 8

All of the following statements may be considered valid inferences from the passage, EXCEPT:

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The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

Back in the early 2000s, an awesome thing happened in the New X-Men comics. Our mutant heroes had been battling giant robots called Sentinels for years, but suddenly these mechanical overlords spawned a new threat: Nano-Sentinels! Not content to rule Earth with their metal fists, these tiny robots invaded our bodies at the microscopic level. Infected humans were slowly converted into machines, cell by cell.

Now, a new wave of extremely odd robots is making at least part of the Nano-Sentinels story come true. Using exotic fabrication materials like squishy hydrogels and elastic polymers, researchers are making autonomous devices that are often tiny and that could turn out to be more powerful than an army of Terminators. Some are 1-centimetre blobs that can skate over water. Others are flat sheets that can roll themselves into tubes, or matchstick-sized plastic coils that act as powerful muscles. No, they won’t be invading our bodies and turning us into Sentinels - which I personally find a little disappointing - but some of them could one day swim through our bloodstream to heal us. They could also clean up pollutants in water or fold themselves into different kinds of vehicles for us to drive. . . .

Unlike a traditional robot, which is made of mechanical parts, these new kinds of robots are made from molecular parts. The principle is the same: both are devices that can move around and do things independently. But a robot made from smart materials might be nothing more than a pink drop of hydrogel. Instead of gears and wires, it’s assembled from two kinds of molecules - some that love water and some that avoid it - which interact to allow the bot to skate on top of a pond.

Sometimes these materials are used to enhance more conventional robots. One team of researchers, for example, has developed a different kind of hydrogel that becomes sticky when exposed to a low-voltage zap of electricity and then stops being sticky when the electricity is switched off. This putty-like gel can be pasted right onto the feet or wheels of a robot. When the robot wants to climb a sheer wall or scoot across the ceiling, it can activate its sticky feet with a few volts. Once it is back on a flat surface again, the robot turns off the adhesive like a light switch.

Robots that are wholly or partly made of gloop aren’t the future that I was promised in science fiction. But it’s definitely the future I want. I’m especially keen on the nanometre-scale “soft robots” that could one day swim through our bodies. Metin Sitti, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany, worked with colleagues to prototype these tiny, synthetic beasts using various stretchy materials, such as simple rubber, and seeding them with magnetic microparticles. They are assembled into a finished shape by applying magnetic fields. The results look like flowers or geometric shapes made from Tinkertoy ball and stick modelling kits. They’re guided through tubes of fluid using magnets, and can even stop and cling to the sides of a tube.

Question 9

Which one of the following statements best captures the sense of the first paragraph?

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Question 10

Which one of the following scenarios, if false, could be seen as supporting the passage?

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