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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. To what country does the English correspondent in Chapter 4.5 ascribe many American expletives?
2. Which is the second factor that Mencken identifies as an impediment to the growth of the American language in Chapter 3.1?
3. To what phrase did Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster, and Robert Southey object as a base Americanism, as discussed in Chapter 2.3?
4. What word did Webster argue should have its vowel sound changed to "ee" instead of "eh"?
5. What is the second characteristic that Mencken attributes to American English in Chapter 1.5?
Short Essay Questions
1. How does Mencken characterize Shakespeare and what is the Bard's relevance on American English?
2. To what does Mencken ascribe the withdrawal of the National Education Association from the simplified spelling campaign?
3. What style of writing does Mencken advocate concerning euphemisms in Chapter 4.4?
4. What is the difference between "rock" in English and in American, as explained in Chapter 2.4?
5. How is the advance of American spelling characterized in Chapter 8.3?
6. In general, what is the relationship between foreign names for locations and American pronunciations?
7. What influence does Mencken credit the Protestant Episcopal Church with about American adoption of Briticisms?
8. What, in Chapter 1.3, is the main conflict of ideas that Mencken puts forth?
9. In what does Mencken evidently delight concerning the speech of American, in Chapter 1.5?
10. Under what situation does language undergo great changes and renew its vitality, according to Mencken in Chapter 9.1?
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
Part of the driving force behind the divergence of American from British, is what Americans rather distinctly desire to express in language, according to Mencken. Write an essay discussing these desires of which Mencken implicitly speaks. What is the American concerned with in his language? What obstacles in linguistic form can stand between him and his desires? What then happens to these obstacles? What happens to language overall? Are there any dangers in these tendencies? If so, what are they? What is the fundamental relationship between the desires of a populace and their linguistic form?
Essay Topic 3
Although American had changed drastically by the time Mencken wrote The American Language, in 1921, it has clearly changed drastically since then, as well. Examine, in an analytical essay, some of the more significant changes since then. What new words have come into popular usage? What then popular Americanisms have faded out almost altogether? Has the language changed as significantly since 1921 as it did between any other comparable span of time? If so, defend your answer with specific examples. Finally, what is the characteristic of the American language as revealed by comparing its present state with that it was characterized by Mencken as having when he wrote The American Language?
This section contains 2,429 words
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