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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 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
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?
Essay Topic 3
At the root of the divergence of American from British was the spirit of the Revolution. Write an essay responding to the following questions: What was the nature of the revolutionary spirit? Why did it desire to distinguish itself from England? Why did this desire carry over to language? How was it practical and how impractical? What do these impracticalities reveal about the nature of the spirit? How did this spirit directly influence the American dialect? How did it indirectly influence it? For how long did this spirit continue to influence, directly or indirectly, the American language? What is significant about the relationship between this spirit and the language?
This section contains 2,496 words
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