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. How many classifications of Americanisms does Bartlett postulate in his 1859 dictionary?

2. What sound did Webster object to inserting in words such as "gradual" and "nature," before the "u"?

3. Which Founding Father coined the term "to belittle"?

4. How many pages in "The King's English" are dedicated to explaining the distinction between "will" and "shall"?

5. What Anglo-Saxon word does Mencken report the colonists refused to replace with an Old Norse word of similar meaning?

Short Essay Questions

1. What typifies the difference in the use of honorifics between Americans and the English?

2. Describe H.L. Mencken's attitude towards the American tendencies in the formation of new words.

3. What is significant about the divergent styles of naming of streets in America and England?

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

5. How does Mencken describe the attempts of British authors to give voice to American characters?

6. What was Walt Whitman's role in the development of the national literature of the United States?

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

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

9. What general problem of language does Mencken describe in Chapter 1.1?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

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 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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