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. Which European language has exerted the most influence on the American language?

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

3. What event does Mencken credit with strengthening the obfuscation of distinction between American and British English?

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

5. The prudish reluctance to name what sort of diseases hindered proper preventative information?

Short Essay Questions

1. From what tradition do names such as Faith, Hope, and Charity come, and what is significant about the continued use of these names?

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

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

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

5. With what sort of distinctions is Chapter 7.2 principally concerned?

6. What two principal sources does Mencken identify as adding new words to the American English in Chapter 2.2?

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

8. What style of writing does Mencken advocate concerning euphemisms in Chapter 4.4?

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

10. In Chapter 1.2, whom does Mencken identify as chiefly responsible for the inhibiting of an American dialect?

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

Through what Mencken claims concerning the nature of slang, in Chapter 11, it could be construed as a microcosm of The American Language as a whole. Write an essay investigating this claim. What are the chief characteristics of any linguistic development? What are the chief characteristics of the development of slang? How are they alike? How are they different? What processes do they undergo? What is significant and mutually relevant in these processes?

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?

(see the answer keys)

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