CAT 2017 Question Paper | Verbal Slot 2

CAT Previous Year Paper | CAT VARC Questions | Question 31

CAT VARC has changed a lot since 2014-15 and has increased the number of RC based questions and the other part called as verbal ability also saw an inclination towards questions that require extensive reading than anything else (read as vocab and grammar). We have tried to present here the CAT 2017 VARC Section with detailed solutions in a student friendly format to test yourself and understand the importance of reading for VARC section of the CAT exam. For a curated reading list head out here: Bharath’s Reading List. If you are planning to take CAT 2017 paper as a full fledged mock, it would help if you go back to : CAT Question Bank and solve questions that are not from actual CAT Question papers.


The passage given below is followed by four alternate summaries. Choose the option that best captures the essence of the passage.

Question 31 : A fundamental property of language is that it is slippery and messy and more liquid than solid, a gelatinous mass that changes shape to fit. As Wittgenstein would remind us, "usage has no sharp boundary." Oftentimes, the only way to determine the meaning of a word is to examine how it is used. This insight is often described as the "meaning is use" doctrine. There are differences between the "meaning is use" doctrine and a dictionary-first theory of meaning. "The dictionary's careful fixing of words to definitions, like butterflies pinned under glass, can suggest that this is how language works. The definitions can seem to ensure and fix the meaning of words, just as the gold standard can back a country's currency." What Wittgenstein found in the circulation of ordinary language, however, was a freefloating currency of meaning. The value of each word arises out of the exchange. The lexicographer abstracts a meaning from that exchange, which is then set within the conventions of the dictionary definition.

  1. Dictionary definitions are like 'gold standards' — artificial, theoretical and dogmatic. Actual meaning of words is their free-exchange value.
  2. Language is already slippery; given this, accounting for 'meaning in use' will only exasperate the problem. That is why lexicographers 'fix' meanings.
  3. Meaning is dynamic; definitions are static. The 'meaning in use' theory helps us understand that definitions of words are culled from their meaning in exchange and use and not vice versa.
  4. The meaning of words in dictionaries is clear, fixed and less dangerous and ambiguous than the meaning that arises when words are exchanged between people.

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Explanatory Answer

The paragraph argues that the meanings of words are not fixed, but arise out of exchange, in the way the words are used. The lexicographer abstracts a meaning from that exchange and sets it down in the dictionary. The dictionary-first theory of meaning is not valid.

Option 3 touches upon all key ideas and sums up the paragraph best.

Option 1 incorrectly labels dictionary definitions ‘artificial’ and does not mention the ‘meaning is use’ theory. Option 2 contradicts what the paragraph says. Option 4 calls the meanings of words in dictionaries ‘less dangerous’ than meanings in exchange. This is not what the paragraph says.


Choice C is the correct answer.

 

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