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Q. 1: The passage given below is followed by four alternate summaries. Choose the option that best captures the essence of the passage.
A distinguishing feature of language is our ability to refer to absent things, known as displaced reference. A speaker can bring distant referents to mind in the absence of any obvious stimuli. Thoughts, not limited to the here and now, can pop into our heads for unfathomable reasons. This ability to think about distant things necessarily precedes the ability to talk about them. Thought precedes meaningful referential communication. A prerequisite for the emergence of human-like meaningful symbols is that the mental categories they relate to can be invoked even in the absence of immediate stimuli.
1. Thoughts precede all speech acts and these thoughts pop up in our heads even in the absence of any stimulus.
2. Displaced reference is particular to humans and thoughts pop into our heads for no real reason.
3. Thoughts are essential to communication and only humans have the ability to think about objects not present in their surroundings.
4. The ability to think about objects not present in our environment precedes the development of human communication
1. A summary of the passage would read like the following:
Displaced reference is the propensity to have thoughts about distant things without the absence of any obvious stimulus. Displaced reference or thoughts precede language or communication.
Option 1 distorts the meaning of the paragraph by stating that thoughts precede all speech acts. This implies that we think of a particular subject before speaking about it. The passage mentions that thoughts occurred before communication or language in humans. The two interpretations are not compatible. Secondly, “all” speech acts is too strong an assumption to make. Therefore, option 1 is eliminated. The paragraph does not mention that displaced reference is unique to humans. Eliminate option 2.
The paragraph does not mention that the ability to have thoughts not present in our surroundings is unique only to humans. Eliminate option 3.
Option 4 summarizes the paragraph correctly. The ability to think precedes human communication (as mentioned at the top of the solution). Hence, the correct answer is option 4.