Jump to content
IAC Board
  • Announcements

    • administrator

      Dobrodošli - Welcome!   09/08/2017

      Dobrodošli na Forum! Welcome to the Forum!  Pridružite nam se, otvarajte nove i učestvujte u postojećim diskusijama. Za sve probleme u funkcionisanju foruma šaljite nam e-mail na dragan@iacbg.org ili privatnom porukom administratoru.  Join in, open new topics or participate in existing discussions. Report all issues in Forum by e-mail to dragan@iacbg.org or by messaging administrator directly here. 

Jasonly

Members
  • Content count

    1
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Belgrade, Serbia
  1. A not infrequently discussed topic in my own GRE classes is that of what are known as structural signposts, referred to in the Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE and other places as "triggers." These discussions are for the most part related to establishing values for the blanks in Text Completion tasks, but understanding and keeping your eyes peeled for them in Reading tasks can also be quite important. They are essentially the "mechanical" components of a sentence, indicating relations between specific items of content, i.e. various clauses, subjects, and objects. They come in two basic flavors, best or at least most simply represented by words such as "so" for the "straight arrow" relationship between content items, and "but" for the "curved arrow." What do I mean? By "straight arrow," I mean that this sort of trigger does not change the values between specific content items. For example, "Good thing" ---> "so" ---> "other good thing." Positive to positive. Vice versa for "but." Those sorts are "hard" triggers, meaning that they are purely mechanical. If you look up the word "so" in the dictionary, you'll certainly find a definition there- a great many definitions, in fact. But you could almost say that the word has more of a function than a definition. Contrast that to the word "antediluvian." Through a very particular set of etymological derivations, you end up with a very specific definition: "before The Flood" aka "old-fashioned." This is a specific content item, as contrasted to a trigger. So what is a "soft trigger?" A soft trigger is a word of phrase that gets the same result as a hard trigger, but is not so mechanical. You might think for example of phrases such as "based on" (straight arrow) or "far from" (curved arrow). "Far from being an intelligent, rational human being, the giant orange snowflake had fallen soufflé for a brain." It tends to be the case that these are harder to spot, especially for non-native speakers (the vast majority of my students are Serbian), and even more so when those students are dealing with idiomatic meaning in a soft trigger phrase (that last bit is a topic for another day). Get the picture? Good, because now it gets interesting. Blindness, deception, and error are what you came for, and I'm here to oblige! A further very sneaky set of soft triggers comes in a much subtler form: words and phrases that indicate things hidden, unknown, or mistaken. These triggers are exclusively in the "curved arrow" category, for reasons that will soon become evident. Think about this: what does it mean when someone uses the words "actually" or "seems" or "assumption?" Consider the following Text Completion example from an official GRE exercise- "The name of the Sloane Matthew Library has long been ________; even longtime city residents assume it is a run-of-the-mill library, never suspecting what art treasures it contains." We won't bother with the answer choices for now, but bonus points for anyone who correctly inserts a word of their own. The point here is to illustrate the fact there is a hidden contrast at work. Another way to phrase this might be "Despite (hard trigger) being called a library, SML contains great works of art." A frequent offender in this group is the transitive verb "belie." This is a word that we've seen show up both as a context clue AND as an answer choice. Well, not at the same time of course. That would just be confusing. It's a word that has even occasionally flummoxed my native English speaking preppers. It can mean "to reveal something as false" or "to cover something up" or simply "to contrast or contradict." "His soft words were belied by his brutal actions." So there you have it! Deceit and treachery can send you careening in the direction of a bad analysis, leading to misidentified blanks, dismal test scores, grey skies, and closed doors. Come join us in February for our next GRE course, or sign up for some of our private classes, if you'd like to develop the tools to avoid such pitfalls.
×