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. According to the report of Beverley, what did a group of soldiers turn into after eating some Jimson Weed?

2. Which of the early presidents does Mencken identify as archetypal of the new American?

3. According to Mencken, democratic government is essentially government by whom?

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

5. What does Mencken list as dominant the English alternative for the word "mail"?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Mencken imply about the vulgar American usage of forms such as "yourn," "hisn," and "theirn," in Chapter 9.4?

2. What is revealed by the attitudes of the English conservatives in Australia towards American spelling?

3. 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?

4. What is Mencken's chief critique of the classifications that he reports in Chapter 1.6?

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 were some of the reasons that many immigrants changed their names upon arriving in America?

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

8. In general, what is the relationship between foreign names for locations and American pronunciations?

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

10. For what reason did the early Americans wish to distinguish their language from that of the English?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Write an essay investigating the various ways in which language can diverge into two or more dialects, using the principles found in Mencken's The American Language. What are the principal sources of its divergences? What are the primary ways in which it actually diverges? What characterizes these divergences? How is this shown, particularly, in the American dialect?

Essay Topic 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

A major part of the analysis of linguistic development provided by Mencken in The American Language is the relationship between language and the territory in which it changes. Construct a well-formed analytical essay that investigates this connection. What are the reasons behind it? What are the consequences of this connection in England and in America? How can territorial linguistic development be seen in the various regions of America? What is the common ground between change and territory upon which this connection is founded?

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