The American Language Test | 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. Which word do Americans use for "angry" that was once an English provincialism considered base?

2. What country's works dominated the reading habits of the American colonists in the latter 18th century?

3. What Anglo-Saxon word does Mencken report the colonists refused to replace with an Old Norse word of similar meaning?

4. Whom does Mencken use to exemplify the flouting of linguistic purity in Chapter 6.1?

5. How many pages in "The King's English" are dedicated to explaining the distinction between "will" and "shall"?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What is the difference between "rock" in English and in American, as explained in Chapter 2.4?

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

4. Under what situation does language undergo great changes and renew its vitality, according to Mencken in Chapter 9.1?

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

6. What is Mencken's evident attitude towards the vulgar American pronunciation of foreign loan-words?

7. What effect did the exploration of new territory have on the language of the American settlers, as described in Chapter 2.3?

8. What two principal sources does Mencken identify as adding new words to the American English in Chapter 2.2?

9. What is the character of the argument presented by the Society for Pure English in the quoted caveat?

10. From what tradition do names such as Faith, Hope, and Charity come, and what is significant about the continued use of these names?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

One of the hardest aspects of any language that is almost impossible to classify is the nuances of pronunciation. Write an essay analyzing the problems caused by the varieties and degrees of pronunciation. Have the difficulties it causes those who study the American language. What is the definition of pronunciation? How does Mencken treat of pronunciation? What are the ways in which it may change an auditor's understanding of a language? How is the American pronunciation divergent from the British? What particularities of the American pronunciation are significant in comprehension of the American language?

Essay Topic 2

Write an essay investigating the various ways in which language can diverge into two or more dialects, using the principles found in Mencken's The American Language. What are the principal sources of its divergences? What are the primary ways in which it actually diverges? What characterizes these divergences? How is this shown, particularly, in the American dialect?

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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