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 is the English meaning of the phrase "to carry on"?

2. From what language does the English word "moose" come?

3. According to Mencken, how do the Americans consider the precise English use of the indefinite pronoun ("one")?

4. What does John S. Farmer describe the Western vernacular as being?

5. What does Sayce say that language is composed of in 1879?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is Mencken's evident attitude towards the vulgar American pronunciation of foreign loan-words?

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

3. What principally causes the difficulty of the English people understanding the American speech as explained in Chapter 1.3?

4. What characterizes the American attitude towards creating new names?

5. Who does Grandgent say are under the influence of the British in terms of their pronunciation?

6. 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"?

7. In what does Mencken evidently delight concerning the speech of American, in Chapter 1.5?

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

An interesting part of speech, according to the analysis Mencken provides, is that of the pronoun. Already a linguistic shortcut, it becomes the subject of even more reductionist changes. Analyze this tendency in an essay, which thoroughly explicates the modern American pronoun. What is the function of the pronoun? For what does it serve as a substitute? What are its relationships with other parts of speech? How do these various elements tend towards the elision of pronouns with other parts of speech? What is significant about this tendency to elide pronouns?

Essay Topic 2

A significant contributor to the present state of the American language is the influx of foreign words, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. Compose an essay analyzing the impact and influences of these various foreign words. What particular contributions have they made to the language? How do they reflect the overall composition of the American populace? How have these words themselves changed? How have they changed the language overall? How do all of these changes indicate the tendencies of the American English dialect?

Essay Topic 3

Mencken claims that the true American spirit is to be found not in the textbooks or proclamations of grammarians, but in the vulgar speech of the common people. Discuss this claim in a thoughtful analytical essay. What is the American spirit? Does Mencken clearly present what the American spirit is? Is his a defensible claim? How does the vulgar speech of the common person reflect this spirit? Is there some danger of degradation in linguistic form from prevalence of the vulgar speech? How does the vulgar speech reflect upon the American as a human person?

(see the answer keys)

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