Tuesday, May 22, 2012

this is kind of nifty

Here's a GRE Sentence Completion problem from Manhattan Prep's blog.

The exhibit is not so much a retrospective as a __________ ; the artist’s weaker early work is glossed over and any evidence of his ultimate dissolution is absent entirely.

Select two correct answers.

(A) paean
(B) philippic
(C) tirade
(D) panacea
(E) eulogy
(F) crescendo

In the revised GRE's Sentence Completion section, the object of the game is to select TWO words that are each capable of (1) completing the sentence correctly and (2) giving the sentence a similar meaning. In other words, the words you select need to be either synonyms or almost-synonyms. Two antonyms might conceivably complete the sentence, but this would violate criterion (2). To get around this problem, the GRE Sentence Completion questions are designed so that a pair of antonyms can't be selected without one or the other word in the selected pair sounding ridiculous in context.

Have at it, then click the above link for the answer and explanation. I was able to answer correctly despite not knowing the meaning of "philippic," which is not a word I'd normally expect to see on the GRE.



Charles said...

Ooh, yeah, "philippic" is a new word for me, too. Sounds like a good entry for a "dictionary" game I play online with some friends.

I'mma gonna go with A and E. I haven't looked at the link yet to see if this is correct, but it seems fairly obvious to me. Neither "panacea" (a cure-all) or "crescendo" (a building of intensity or volume) have anything to do with the sentence, leaving A, B, C, and E. "Tirade" doesn't fit because the sentence makes it clear that the word should be positive (negative elements have been pruned from the exhibit). As I mentioned above, I don't know what B means, which leaves me with "paean" and "eulogy"--and these two words do indeed fit the criteria (although I personally like "paean" better for this). So, unless one of the answers is "philippic," the answers are obvious.

As a token of my faith in my answers, I'm going to go ahead and post this before I click on the link.

Kevin Kim said...

Your faith has healed you!

I took the etymological route. I normally think of a eulogy as something done for the dead; the sentence's reference to "ultimate dissolution" indicates the person in question is dead. The Greek "eu-" means "good" and "logos" means "words," and during eulogies we tend not to bring up unpleasant facts about the deceased. "Paean" and "eulogy" seemed close enough in meaning to warrant ignoring "philippic."

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I choose B and C. Early work should be weaker since an artist ought to improve, and dissolution is an essential pattern in a well-lived aesthetic life. The exhibit therefore reduces this unnamed artist to the middle period of his work, when his artistic achievements were merely middling! Obviously, this 'retrospective' was a travesty of the artist's life and work! Clearly a tirade and a philippic.

Jeffery Hodges

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Elisson said...

This was easy: A and E were the only reasonable answers even if you didn't know what the hell a philippic is.

Recommended listening: Simon and Garfunkel, "A Simple Desultory Philippic."