IELTS Academic Reading Practice 25

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 1-12.

Questions 1-9

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in the reading passage? In boxes 1-9 on your answer sheet, write

YES   if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO   if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

1. It is easy to be impartial when studying a language
2. Because language is largely universal, everybody feels that they are entitled to express a point of view.
3. Language affects how we judge a person's personality and their employability.
4. Aspects of language are similar in all locations.
5. A prescriptive linguistic approach relies on linguistic standards and established grammar rules.
6. Descriptivism still exists today.
7. According to the prescriptivist, it is pointless to try to stop language change.
8. According  to descriptivism, there is only one correct form of language.
9. Both descriptivists and prescriptivists have been misrepresented.
Questions 10-12

Complete the summary below.  

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in 10-12 on your answer sheet.

In the field of linguistics, controversies have arisen when trying to define language. adheres to current linguistic standards. Conversely, attempts to describe language without concern to established grammar rules.  Linguists who take this approach believe that language should be based on the of speaking.


Answer Sheet
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  • help Learn how to HIGHLIGHT & ADD NOTES
    1. HOLD LEFT CLICK
    2. DRAG MOUSE OVER TEXT
    3. RIGHT CLICK SELECTED TEXT

Linguistic Debate

Language is a social, communicative tool; we use language to be social with others all around us, whether they are strangers, acquaintances or close friends, but it is not easy to be systematic and objective about language study. Debates in the subject of linguistics often delve into topics which many consider to be controversial. When a systematic outlook on language breaks down, sometimes arguments can start. Language belongs to everyone, so most people feel they have a right to hold an opinion about it. These kinds of linguistic arguments can be emotionally charged, whether they concern minor points of usage or even major policies in language education.

Language is something social that we use to communicate in public, making it easy for different usages to be noted and criticized. No part of society or social behavior is exempt, as linguistic factors influence how we judge personality, intelligence, social status, educational standards, job aptitude, and many other areas of identity and socialization. As a result, it is easy to hurt, and to be hurt, when one feels their language use is under attack.

Prescriptivism is generally described as having the viewpoint that one particular language variety carries greater value in comparison to different varieties, as well as the belief that a speech community should try to use this prestigious language variety in favor of others. The view is adopted most notably in education, especially in relation to subjects such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. In different regions, the variety of language which is considered the most prestigious is usually a version of the standard written language. The “prestige dialect” is encountered most often in literature, or in the formal spoken language which most closely reflects this style. Adherents to this language variety are said to speak or write correctly, while those who communicate differently for whatever reason are said to be incorrect.

A variety of languages have been studied through the lens of prescriptivism, with particular attention paid to an 18th-century approach, in terms of standard grammar and written dictionaries. The aims of these early grammarians were threefold: (a) they wanted to codify the principles of their languages, to show that there was a system beneath the apparent chaos of usage. (b) they wanted a means of settling disputes over usage, and (c) they wanted to point out what they felt to be common errors, in order to “improve” the language. The authoritarian nature of the approach is best characterized by its reliance on rules of grammar. Some usages are prescribed to be learned and followed accurately, while others are prescribed to be avoided. ln this early period, there were no half-measures, and usage was either right or wrong. Essentially, grammarians and dictionary makers were tasked with directing the future of standard English.

These attitudes are still with us, and they motivate a widespread concern that linguistic standards should be maintained. Nevertheless, there is an alternative point of view that is concerned less with standards than with the facts of linguistic usage. This approach is summarized in the statement that it is the task of the grammarian to describe, not prescribe, and to record the facts of linguistic diversity, not to make an attempt at evaluating language variation or halting language change. In the second half of the 18th century, we already find advocates of this view, such as Joseph Priestley, who insists in his “Rudiments of English Grammar” (1761) that “the custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language.” Linguistic issues, it is argued, cannot be solved by prescriptivism and legislation for standard language. This view has become the tenet of the modem linguistic approach to grammatical analysis.

In our own time, the opposition between “descriptivism” and “prescriptivism” in linguistic analysis has, at times, been pushed to extremes, with both sides going after the other. Descriptive grammarians have been presented as people who do not care about standards, due to the way they see all forms of usage as equally valid. Meanwhile, prescriptive grammarians have been presented as blind adherents to a historical tradition. The opposition has even been presented in quasi-political terms of radical liberalism vs elitist conservatism.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Linguistic Debate

Language is a social, communicative tool; we use language to be social with others all around us, whether they are strangers, acquaintances or close friends, but it is not easy to be systematic and objective about language study. Debates in the subject of linguistics often delve into topics which many consider to be controversial. When a systematic outlook on language breaks down, sometimes arguments can start. Language belongs to everyone, so most people feel they have a right to hold an opinion about it. These kinds of linguistic arguments can be emotionally charged, whether they concern minor points of usage or even major policies in language education.

Language is something social that we use to communicate in public, making it easy for different usages to be noted and criticized. No part of society or social behavior is exempt, as linguistic factors influence how we judge personality, intelligence, social status, educational standards, job aptitude, and many other areas of identity and socialization. As a result, it is easy to hurt, and to be hurt, when one feels their language use is under attack.

Prescriptivism is generally described as having the viewpoint that one particular language variety carries greater value in comparison to different varieties, as well as the belief that a speech community should try to use this prestigious language variety in favor of others. The view is adopted most notably in education, especially in relation to subjects such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. In different regions, the variety of language which is considered the most prestigious is usually a version of the standard written language. The “prestige dialect” is encountered most often in literature, or in the formal spoken language which most closely reflects this style. Adherents to this language variety are said to speak or write correctly, while those who communicate differently for whatever reason are said to be incorrect.

A variety of languages have been studied through the lens of prescriptivism, with particular attention paid to an 18th-century approach, in terms of standard grammar and written dictionaries. The aims of these early grammarians were threefold: (a) they wanted to codify the principles of their languages, to show that there was a system beneath the apparent chaos of usage. (b) they wanted a means of settling disputes over usage, and (c) they wanted to point out what they felt to be common errors, in order to “improve” the language. The authoritarian nature of the approach is best characterized by its reliance on rules of grammar. Some usages are prescribed to be learned and followed accurately, while others are prescribed to be avoided. ln this early period, there were no half-measures, and usage was either right or wrong. Essentially, grammarians and dictionary makers were tasked with directing the future of standard English.

These attitudes are still with us, and they motivate a widespread concern that linguistic standards should be maintained. Nevertheless, there is an alternative point of view that is concerned less with standards than with the facts of linguistic usage. This approach is summarized in the statement that it is the task of the grammarian to describe, not prescribe, and to record the facts of linguistic diversity, not to make an attempt at evaluating language variation or halting language change. In the second half of the 18th century, we already find advocates of this view, such as Joseph Priestley, who insists in his “Rudiments of English Grammar” (1761) that “the custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language.” Linguistic issues, it is argued, cannot be solved by prescriptivism and legislation for standard language. This view has become the tenet of the modem linguistic approach to grammatical analysis.

In our own time, the opposition between “descriptivism” and “prescriptivism” in linguistic analysis has, at times, been pushed to extremes, with both sides going after the other. Descriptive grammarians have been presented as people who do not care about standards, due to the way they see all forms of usage as equally valid. Meanwhile, prescriptive grammarians have been presented as blind adherents to a historical tradition. The opposition has even been presented in quasi-political terms of radical liberalism vs elitist conservatism.

 
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