ISS (Statistical Services) English: Questions 244 - 244 of 259

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Question number: 244

» Precis Writing

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Appeared in Year: 2010

Essay Question▾

Describe in Detail

Write a précis of the following passage in about one-third of the original length using your own words as far as possible. Please state the number of words used in your précis and suggest a suitable title. (Note: the précis must be written only on the special sheet provided for this purpose - one word in each block - and the sheet should be fastened securely inside the answer book:

“No matter how eloquently a dog may bark- he cannot tell you that his parents were poor but honest, ” said Bertrand Russell once. What the famous philosopher asserted in effect is that language is the exclusive property of the human species. The idea of talking animals is as old and as widespread among human societies as language itself. All cultures have legends in which some animal plays a speaking role. All over West Africa, children listen to folk tales in which a “spider-man” is the hero. “Coyote” is a favourite figure in many Native American tales, and many an animal takes the stage in Aesop’s famous fables. The fictional Doctor Doolittle’s forte was communicating with all manner of animals, from giant snails to tiny sparrows.

If language is viewed only as a system of communication, then many species communicate. Humans also use systems other than language to relate to each other and to send and receive “messages, ” like so-called “body language. ” The question is whether the communication systems used by other species are at all like human linguistic knowledge, which is acquired by children with no external instruction, and which is used creatively rather than in response to internal or external stimuli.

Most humans who acquire language use speech sounds to express meanings, but such sounds are not a necessary aspect of language, as evidenced by the sign languages. The use of speech sounds is therefore not a basic part of what we have been calling language. The chirping of birds, the squeaking of dolphins and the dancing of bees may potentially represent systems similar to human languages. If animal communication systems are not like human language, it will not be due to a lack of speech.

Conversely, when animals vocally imitate human utterances, it does not mean they possess language. Language is a system that relates sounds or gestures to meanings. Talking birds such as parrots and mynah birds are capable of faithfully reproducing words and phrases of human language that they have heard, but their utterances carry no meaning. They are speaking neither English nor their own language when they sound like us.

Talking birds do not dissect the sounds of their imitations into discrete units. Polly and Molly do not rhyme for a parrot. They are as different as hello and goodbye. One property of all human languages is the discreteness of the speech or gestural units, which are ordered and reordered, combined and split apart. Generally, a parrot says what it is taught, or what it hears, and no more. If Polly learns “Polly wants a cracker” and “Polly wants a chocolate” and also learns to imitate the single words “cake” and “bun, ” she will not spontaneously produce, as children do, Polly wants a cake” or Polly wants a bun, ” or “Polly wants a cake and a bun. ” If she learns cat and cats, and dog and dogs, and then learns the word parrot, she will be unable to form the plural parrots as children do by the age of three; nor can a parrot form an unlimited set of utterances from a finite set of units, . nor understand utterances never heard - before. Therefore, the ability to produce sounds -similar to those used in human language, even if meanings are related to these sounds, cannot be equated with the ability to acquire the complex grammar of a human language. (563 words)

Explanation

Human and their dominance in communication:

Ability to speak is an exclusive quality which only human species have. There are many fictional characters that we have seen, can talk as the human being but that is just in stories. If language is viewed as a system of communication, all living things communicate. But it can’t be compared to the lingu

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