The American Language Test | Lesson Plans Mid-Book Test - Hard

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Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What is the physical basis to which the nasal twang of Americans is ascribed?

2. According to Mencken, democratic government is essentially government by whom?

3. How is the "portmanteau-word" formed?

4. Which of the following groups of foreign immigrants does Mencken not attribute influence over American English in Chapter 6.4?

5. To what phrase did Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster, and Robert Southey object as a base Americanism, as discussed in Chapter 2.3?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What are the different significations of "guy" in America and England, as described by Mencken?

3. How is the advance of American spelling characterized in Chapter 8.3?

4. What influence does Mencken credit the Protestant Episcopal Church with about American adoption of Briticisms?

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

6. What chief cause does Mencken ascribes the backwardness of American war slang to?

7. To what does Mencken ascribe the withdrawal of the National Education Association from the simplified spelling campaign?

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

9. What two factors are discussed in Chapter 9.5 as contributing to Mencken's distress in the "movement toward the identity in form" and why?

10. What is Mencken's evident attitude towards the "wearing down" of vowel and consonant sounds in the vulgar American pronunciation?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

The primary conflict voiced by Mencken in The American Language is that which exists between the spirit of linguistic conservationism and a spirit of linguistic innovation. Analyze this conflict as it is presented throughout the book and report insightfully on the strengths and weaknesses of each spirit. How is each spirit superior to the other? How is it inferior? Is there a valid argument to be made in favor absolutely of one or the other? What arguments may be presented in support of each? What are the arguments that may be presented against each? Is there a plausible compromise that may be made between the two?

Essay Topic 2

Unlike nouns and adjectives, Mencken devotes considerable inquiry to the nature and alteration of verb forms in The American Language. Write an essay explaining the attention that Mencken pays to verbs. What role do they fulfill in communication? Why do its particular forms change more rapidly than other parts of speech? What does this rapid changing indicate about the relationship between language and circumstance/culture? How do verbs typically change? What is significant about the manner in which they typically change?

Essay Topic 3

At the root of the divergence of American from British was the spirit of the Revolution. Write an essay responding to the following questions: What was the nature of the revolutionary spirit? Why did it desire to distinguish itself from England? Why did this desire carry over to language? How was it practical and how impractical? What do these impracticalities reveal about the nature of the spirit? How did this spirit directly influence the American dialect? How did it indirectly influence it? For how long did this spirit continue to influence, directly or indirectly, the American language? What is significant about the relationship between this spirit and the language?

(see the answer keys)

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