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 is the principal reason Mencken states that the English language has not greatly diverged since the foundation of the United States of America?

2. Mencken claims that Noah Webster contains less of the scientific inquirer and more of what?

3. Who is the author of "Travels in North America," published in 1827?

4. Who proposed a generally accepted nomenclature for currency in 1785?

5. Mencken describes the American language as having a "democratic enmity" to all what, in the beginning of Chapter 6.1?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does Mencken characterize Shakespeare and what is the Bard's relevance on American English?

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

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

4. What, in Chapter 1.3, is the main conflict of ideas that Mencken puts forth?

5. What is revealed by the attitudes of the English conservatives in Australia towards American spelling?

6. What is the most common incorrect usage of the adjective in vulgar American?

7. Why does Mencken find the double negative an appreciable linguistic deviation?

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

9. Characterize the intentions and effects of the renaming done by the Geographical Board, according to Mencken.

10. In general, how did Noah Webster influence American pronunciation?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

An implicit premise throughout Mencken's work is that of the influence the overall national character and spirit has on the formation of a language. Write an essay discussing and analyzing the possibility and evidence of this connection. What are the national characters of Americans and Englishmen? How is this shown in their languages? What influence do these character traits have on linguistic formulations and habits of the people? What are some specific examples by which this influence can be seen? What is the ultimate significance of this connection?

Essay Topic 2

Compose an essay analyzing the Americanization of foreign names, as presented in The American Language. How are they Americanized? What characterizes the Americanization of surnames? What characterizes the Americanization of given names? What influences their Americanization? Why are they Americanized? What is lost by their Americanization? What is the result of this tendency to conformity?

Essay Topic 3

An important distinction, which Mencken makes in discussing the nature of the American language, is between the proper speech of literate Americans and the common speech of what he calls the proletariat. Write an essay discussing this distinction and its ultimate significance. According to what Mencken has written, is there a genuine distinction between the two? Which of the two does Mencken appear to favor? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each, the proper and the improper, the formal and the informal? What arguments may be made in defense of each?

(see the answer keys)

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