|Name: _________________________||Period: ___________________|
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 at the beginning of Chapter 1.3, what do the novelists and newspapermen on either side of the Atlantic ocean delight in?
3. What word did the editor of the Westminster Gazette substitute for the incomprehensible dash in the mangled Americanism of Rupert Brooke?
4. Which of the following did the African slaves NOT introduce to American English?
5. What does Mencken state is neglected by those who are professional trained to investigate it?
Short Essay Questions
1. How does Mencken describe the attempts of British authors to give voice to American characters?
2. What is Mencken's evident attitude towards the vulgar American pronunciation of foreign loan-words?
3. What was Walt Whitman's role in the development of the national literature of the United States?
4. In general, how did Noah Webster influence American pronunciation?
5. In Chapter 1.2, whom does Mencken identify as chiefly responsible for the inhibiting of an American dialect?
6. What chief cause does Mencken ascribes the backwardness of American war slang to?
7. In general, what is the relationship between foreign names for locations and American pronunciations?
8. How does Mencken describe the distinction between colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions that are generally accepted and those that are not? What example does he use to explain this distinction?
9. Describe H.L. Mencken's attitude towards the American tendencies in the formation of new words.
10. What is the significance of the quote from Sayce at the beginning of Chapter 9.9 that "Language begins with sentences, not with single words"?
Write an essay for ONE of the following 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
Write an essay analyzing the nature of the relationship between the "melting pot" of American immigrant assimilation and the nomenclature that permeates the country. What are the evident influences of foreign languages on American names? How are these names Americanized? What is the general tendency of American-speakers in the employment and application of names to places and people? To what degree are the various names Americanized? What is the cause of Americanization of names? What is its result and what does it indicate about the American spirit?
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?
This section contains 965 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)