Objective: In the first two parts of the introductory chapter to The American Language, H.L. Mencken lays out the principles by which he will conduct his investigation and evaluation of the diverging streams of the American language. The objective of this lesson is to examine those principles and to evaluate their validity by judging their applicability.
1) Class Discussion: What are the evident principles of inquiry by which Mencken intends to conduct his study of the American language? How is this indicated through the type of speech Mencken evidently prefers, as indicated by the first two parts of Chapter 1? Which statements and phrases indicate this preference? What is Mencken's evident perspective on the formation of an American language? Consider the adjectives he uses in description of both the conservative English-speakers and the innovative common speech. How might this perspective influence the author's evaluation of his topic? Why...
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