When a language seems especially telegraphic (that is, requiring less to be actually said to put a sentence together), it is usually because enough adults learnt it at a certain stage in its history that, given the difficulty of learning a new language after childhood, it became a kind of stripped-down “schoolroom” version of itself. Because all languages, are, to some extent, busier than they need to be, this streamlining leaves the language thoroughly complex and nuanced, just lighter on the bric-a-brac that so many languages pant under. For example, Indonesian, one of the most economical languages in the world, is a first language to only one in four of its speakers; the language has been used for many centuries as a lingua franca in a vast region, imposed on speakers of several hundred languages. This means that while other languages can be like overgrown lawns, Indonesian’s grammar has been regularly mowed, such that especially the colloquial forms are tidier.
The first line of the paragraph contains several ideas. Let’s break it down into parts: First, a language is “telegraphic” when you need say less to put a sentence together. Second, this is because a number of adults learnt it at a certain stage in its history. Third, we know that adults find it difficult to learn a language after childhood. This is why the language became a stripped-down version of itself. The paragraph then goes on to explain that all languages are “busier” than they need to be and “panting under bric-a brac”. That is, all languages have complexities that make one to do a lot of work to put a sentence together. The paragraph cites the example of Indonesian to substantiate the point. When a language is forced on a lot of non-native speakers who are adults over a long period of time, it gets streamlined and nuanced. The grammar gets simplified and colloquial forms are “tidier”. Now let us look at the options to see which one sums up the paragraph best: Option A- When a language has been used for many centuries as the lingua franca in a vast region, it becomes especially telegraphic. This is not the idea of the paragraph. The paragraph tells us that when a language is forced over a long period of time on non-native speakers who are adults, it becomes telegraphic. It does not get telegraphic simply because it is the lingua franca of a vast region. Option B- Languages become less "busy" and more nuanced when imposed over long periods of time on new people, who learn it as adults. This is the crux of the paragraph given. Option C- When more adults who are non-native speakers are forced, over time, to learn a language, its colloquial forms become cryptic. This option states the exact opposite of what the paragraph conveys. The language does not become more cryptic, i.e obscure and hard to understand, but more telegraphic when more adults who are non-native speakers are forced, over time, to learn it. Option D- In languages that have been spoken for centuries over vast regions, time and repetition wear words out, and what wears away is often a nugget of meaning. This option points to ‘time’ and to ‘repetition’ as the factors which wear the words out in a language. The paragraph, on the other hand, talks of language grammar getting simplified due to non-native speakers being forced to use it over time. So this is not the right option to sum up the paragraph. Correct Answer: Choice (b)
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