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 vowel sound was dominant in 18th century New England pronunciation, despite common protests to the contrary?

2. What "Anglomaniac affectation" did Noah Webster sneer at in 1789?

3. According to Mencken, which title is subject to the greatest divergence in usage?

4. Which of the following was not used as a substitute for the once indecent term, for highly refined ears, "bull"?

5. What word does Mencken find Dr. John Dewey using in place of the word "opium?"

Short Essay Questions

1. As explained in Chapter 6.4, why are Americans more conceding to foreign loan-words than the English are?

2. How does Mencken describe the attempts of British authors to give voice to American characters?

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

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

5. What is Mencken's evident attitude towards the "wearing down" of vowel and consonant sounds in the vulgar American pronunciation?

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

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

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

9. What was the predominant attitude of philologists towards the study of American slang, at the time of Mencken's writing?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Much of Mencken's The American Language is devoted to the study of expansion of the American vocabulary. Write an essay examining the various sources and means by which new words enter the American dialect, as well as the impact they have. From where do new words come? What prompts the admission of new words into the vocabulary? What languages have had the most influence on the American vocabulary? What does the American dialect do with its new words? What are the effects that new words can and do have on the American dialect? Be sure to use specific examples.

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

Unlike nouns and adjectives, Mencken devotes considerable inquiry to the nature and alteration of verb forms in The American Language. Write an essay explaining the attention that Mencken pays to verbs. What role do they fulfill in communication? Why do its particular forms change more rapidly than other parts of speech? What does this rapid changing indicate about the relationship between language and circumstance/culture? How do verbs typically change? What is significant about the manner in which they typically change?

(see the answer keys)

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