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 purpose does Miss Wittmann say is served by the shortening of word forms?

2. What notable author was the first Englishman to carry Americanisms successfully back to his home?

3. Which London newspaper lamented the "menace" that American movies offer to the purity of the English language?

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

5. Who is the author of "Dissertations on the English Language"?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. What is the relationship between the mean and nasty labor done in the United States and the desire of immigrants to change their names?

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

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

8. What is the relationship that Mencken identifies between French pronunciation and the pronunciation of Southerners?

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

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

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 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

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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