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. What does John S. Farmer describe the Western vernacular as being?

2. What is the American substitute for the English word "tin"?

3. From what language does the English word "moose" come?

4. Who "tries" a legal case in England?

5. According to Mencken, which title is subject to the greatest divergence in usage?

Short Essay Questions

1. In general, what is the relationship between foreign names for locations and American pronunciations?

2. With what sort of distinctions is Chapter 7.2 principally concerned?

3. What principally causes the difficulty of the English people understanding the American speech as explained in Chapter 1.3?

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

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

6. What does Mencken imply about the vulgar American usage of forms such as "yourn," "hisn," and "theirn," in Chapter 9.4?

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 characterizes the divergences of language usage that are cataloged in Chapter 4.2?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Much of Mencken's The American Language is devoted to the study of expansion of the American vocabulary. Write an essay examining the various sources and means by which new words enter the American dialect, as well as the impact they have. From where do new words come? What prompts the admission of new words into the vocabulary? What languages have had the most influence on the American vocabulary? What does the American dialect do with its new words? What are the effects that new words can and do have on the American dialect? Be sure to use specific examples.

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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