English Test 100
Directions for Questions from 1 to 5:
The passage given below is followed by a question. Choose the most appropriate answer to each question.
Language is not a cultural artifact that we learn the way we learn to tell time or how the federal government works. Instead, it is a distinct piece of
the biological makeup of our brains. Language is a complex, specialized skill, which develops in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or
formal instruction, is deployed without awareness of its underlying logic, is qualitatively the same in every individual, and is distinct from more
general abilities to process information or behave intelligently. For these reasons some cognitive scientists have described language as a
psychological faculty, a mental organ, a neural system, and a computational module. But I prefer the admittedly quaint term “instinct.” It conveys
the idea that people know how to talk in more or less the sense that spiders know how to spin webs. Web-spinning was not invented by some
unsung spider genius and does not depend on having had the right education or on having an aptitude for architecture or the construction trades.
Rather, spiders spin spider webs because they have spider brains, which give them the urge to spin and the competence to succeed. Although
there are differences between webs and words, I will encourage you to see language in this way, for it helps to make sense of the phenomena we
Thinking of language as an instinct inverts the popular wisdom, especially as it has been passed down in the canon of the humanities and social
sciences. Language is no more a cultural invention than is upright posture. It is not a manifestation of a general capacity to use symbols: a three-
year-old, we shall see, is a grammatical genius, but is quite incompetent at the visual arts, religious iconography, traffic signs, and the other staples
of the semiotics curriculum. Though language is a magnificent ability unique to Homo sapiens among living specie