The American Language Test | Mid-Book Test - Medium

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This test consists of 5 multiple choice questions, 5 short answer questions, and 10 short essay questions.

Multiple Choice Questions

1. What word best describes the English attitude towards the adoption of foreign loan-words, in contrast to the American attitude?
(a) Tolerating.
(b) Accepting.
(c) Liberal.
(d) Conservative.

2. What does John S. Farmer describe the Western vernacular as being?
(a) Dry and prolonged.
(b) Racy and pungent.
(c) Flippant and pointless.
(d) Irreverent and irrelevant.

3. What "Anglomaniac affectation" did Noah Webster sneer at in 1789?
(a) The recalcitrance to neologisms.
(b) The broad "a."
(c) Clinging to the silent "u" as in "honour."
(d) The literature of Fowler.

4. What does Mencken say newspaper reporters no longer "slobber" over?
(a) British idioms.
(b) Interviews.
(c) Ceremonies.
(d) Tragedies.

5. Which of the following groups of foreign immigrants does Mencken not attribute influence over American English in Chapter 6.4?
(a) Russian Jews.
(b) South-Pacific Asian Islanders.
(c) Slavic peoples.
(d) Italians.

Short Answer Questions

1. What does Mencken list as dominant the English alternative for the word "mail"?

2. According to Mencken, what did the first generations born in the New World value as a virtue over enterprise and resourcefulness?

3. What letter, when preceding a consonant, greatly irritated Henry James like a "morose grinding of the back teeth?"

4. What word in American is used for the English word "shoe?"

5. In what language did the American derivative "coyote" originate?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Mencken mean by saying that Americans have "a habit of achieving short-cuts in speech by a process of agglutination"?

2. What style of writing does Mencken advocate concerning euphemisms in Chapter 4.4?

3. What is the significance of the quote from Sayce at the beginning of Chapter 9.9 that "Language begins with sentences, not with single words"?

4. In Chapter 1.2, whom does Mencken identify as chiefly responsible for the inhibiting of an American dialect?

5. What were some of the reasons that many immigrants changed their names upon arriving in America?

6. What characterizes the favorite slang phrases of the American soldier in World War I, according to Mencken?

7. In what way did the early political disunity of the United States hamper the growth of a national language, according to Mencken in Chapter 3.1?

8. What characterizes the differences between American and English usage of lower-class idioms?

9. What is indicated by dominance of American terms derived from German that are related to eating and drinking?

10. How does a word move from legitimate vocabulary to slang vocabulary, according to Mencken?

(see the answer keys)

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