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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 class of Americans is most influenced by Briticisms, according to Mencken in Chapter 5.2?
2. Which of the following did the African slaves NOT introduce to American English?
3. What is the physical basis to which the nasal twang of Americans is ascribed?
4. What sound did Webster object to inserting in words such as "gradual" and "nature," before the "u"?
5. What "great humorist" does Mencken cite in Chapter 1.3 as "celebrating 'the vigorous new vernacular of the occidental plains and mountains'"?
Short Essay Questions
1. What are the different significations of "guy" in America and England, as described by Mencken?
2. What two principal sources does Mencken identify as adding new words to the American English in Chapter 2.2?
3. How does Mencken describe the distinction between colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions that are generally accepted and those that are not? What example does he use to explain this distinction?
4. Aside from numbering and lettering, what is the principal way in which American and English styles of naming streets are divergent?
5. What typifies the difference in the use of honorifics between Americans and the English?
6. What is the difference between "rock" in English and in American, as explained in Chapter 2.4?
7. Upon what does Mencken claim the art of American prose is based, in Chapter 9.2?
8. What is Mencken's evident attitude towards the "wearing down" of vowel and consonant sounds in the vulgar American pronunciation?
9. What does Mencken imply about the vulgar American usage of forms such as "yourn," "hisn," and "theirn," in Chapter 9.4?
10. What does Mencken evidently find confusing and absurd about the "-our" endings in English?
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
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?
This section contains 993 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)