The Same, but Different: Unique Usages of Common Language

by Lincoln Smith

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    00:01 So, we've started to approach the big picture of a passage first from either a top down or bottom up approach.

    00:09 Those two kind of converged together.

    00:12 Then we've started to look at how structure of a passage can itself give you a clue as to the big idea.

    00:20 We looked at how rhetorical devices can dress up the central logic of a passage.

    00:26 Now we're going to drill down into unique usages of everyday language, and how authors might use language differently than your I to get a point across.

    00:38 We'll move forward from a basic examination of deviation from standard language usage into the specific concepts of contradictory language, definitions of word in context and abrupt transitions.

    00:51 Beyond these definitions and contexts, we'll use just context more generally to clarify other ambiguous or confusing passage language.

    01:02 First, just another analogy to keep you engaged.

    01:05 The classic platform fighting video game, Super Smash Brothers Melee, released in 2006, is well known for its technical and unforgiving gameplay.

    01:15 Players utilize decision making trees with long strings of optimal moves based on known situations, but the player who dominates the overall metagame as a player known as Mango.

    01:28 Mango was well known for using suboptimal moves when his opponents least expected.

    01:36 Likewise, when CARS passage authors sit down to write, they are fully aware of common perceptions and expectations that shape how a given topic will be treated.

    01:48 Now, those basic structures we discussed such as point and counterpoint structures for political science passages will generally be adhered to.

    01:57 But when diving into a specific topic, to communicate a point, in order to kind of throw off those expectations, authors will often subvert those and write in nonstandard language to grab the reader's attention.

    02:13 It is crucial, therefore to recognize that CARS passages are not just a neutral list of facts but a complex and nuanced sharing of opinions.

    02:26 CARS questions will often be built around these nonstandard usages of language.

    02:32 As stated, these include contradictions within the passage, redefining a word away from its dictionary definition based on immediate context, and transitioning abruptly between ideas in order to kind of jar readers awake.

    02:48 CARS passages cannot be perused with a superficial reading.

    02:53 Every moment you spend on a CARS passage needs to be imbued with purpose, intention, determination, that you're going to grab every bit of meaning that you can get out of even the most innocent of phrases.

    03:09 An interesting experiment is to track in a cardinal fashion first, second, third, and so forth, which CARS questions you get wrong for every CARS passage you take across a practice sectional.

    03:22 Provided your understanding of the passage increases as you work through each question, you may find that you miss earlier questions more often than later ones.

    03:33 To remedy the fact that your understanding of a passage might increase the more questions you answer, you might consider answering all the questions in a given set, and then re reviewing your answer selections just for the first question or two.

    03:48 Unlike the sciences, I don't generally recommend trying to finish CARS early to come back to passages just because there's a lot of rereading that you'd have to do if you were to go with that strategy.

    04:00 By using this double tech strategy of the first one or two questions, kind of allows you to get some of the benefits of rereading without losing the time that would be necessary to do so.

    04:15 Words, phrases, even transitions that an author uses in an out of the ordinary fashion must be defined by the surrounding context.

    04:25 When an author is attempting to establish this new meaning, your only goal is to infer what that is.

    04:32 This is actually good news for those of you worried if your vocabulary is strong enough for the CARS section.

    04:38 Don't be intimidated if you don't understand every word based on its literal dictionary definition.

    04:45 Understanding how and why an author is using an unfamiliar word, phrase or transition tends to be sufficient to answer the vast majority of definition in context questions.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture The Same, but Different: Unique Usages of Common Language by Lincoln Smith is from the course CARS Theoretical Foundations.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Internal contradictions
    2. Redefining a word in a new context
    3. Abrupt transitions
    4. Connecting the final paragraph to the initial paragraph
    5. Using constituent elements in the context of the main idea
    1. It can be hard to remember passage context when coming back to it.
    2. Answering questions immediately allows you to track your understanding of the main idea.
    3. Coming back to passages allows you to answer the easy questions first.
    4. Coming back to passages allows you to avoid getting stuck on the hard questions.
    5. Saving passages for later allows you to reflect on their main idea before you return to answer the questions.

    Author of lecture The Same, but Different: Unique Usages of Common Language

     Lincoln Smith

    Lincoln Smith

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