The American Language Test | Lesson Plans Mid-Book Test - Hard

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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 physical basis to which the nasal twang of Americans is ascribed?

2. According to Mencken, democratic government is essentially government by whom?

3. How is the "portmanteau-word" formed?

4. Which of the following groups of foreign immigrants does Mencken not attribute influence over American English in Chapter 6.4?

5. To what phrase did Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster, and Robert Southey object as a base Americanism, as discussed in Chapter 2.3?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. How is the advance of American spelling characterized in Chapter 8.3?

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

5. What does Mencken mean by saying that Americans have "a habit of achieving short-cuts in speech by a process of agglutination"?

6. What chief cause does Mencken ascribes the backwardness of American war slang to?

7. To what does Mencken ascribe the withdrawal of the National Education Association from the simplified spelling campaign?

8. What were some of the reasons that many immigrants changed their names upon arriving in America?

9. What two factors are discussed in Chapter 9.5 as contributing to Mencken's distress in the "movement toward the identity in form" and why?

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

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

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?

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

Of all the various ways in which the American and British dialects are divergent, perhaps the most obvious is the distinct spellings of words. Analyze the significance of this distinction and put forth an argument in support of one or the other spelling paradigm. How do the two dialects go about determining the spelling of a word? What are the principles that ought to be at work in the conventional acceptance of a word's spelling? Which of these principles is the most important? To which principles does each dialect adhere? What is the greater significance of this adherence?

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