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 Chapter 2.6, what regional pronunciation is erroneously thought by some to have superior authority regarding English pronunciation?

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

3. Who "tries" a legal case in England?

4. Which of the following groups of immigrants does Mencken claim have a profound effect on not only the American vocabulary, but also its pronunciation and idiom?

5. Who proposed a generally accepted nomenclature for currency in 1785?

Short Essay Questions

1. Characterize the intentions and effects of the renaming done by the Geographical Board, according to Mencken.

2. What does Mencken mean by saying that Americans have "a habit of achieving short-cuts in speech by a process of agglutination"?

3. What does Mencken intimate by the assertion that the "inner spirit of English" has inclined steadily towards saying "I have go" for a thousand years?

4. With what sort of distinctions is Chapter 7.2 principally concerned?

5. What was the overall effect of Noah Webster on the spelling of American English?

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

7. 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"?

8. In what way did the early political disunity of the United States hamper the growth of a national language, according to Mencken in Chapter 3.1?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Of all the various ways in which the American and British dialects are divergent, perhaps the most obvious is the distinct spellings of words. Analyze the significance of this distinction and put forth an argument in support of one or the other spelling paradigm. How do the two dialects go about determining the spelling of a word? What are the principles that ought to be at work in the conventional acceptance of a word's spelling? Which of these principles is the most important? To which principles does each dialect adhere? What is the greater significance of this adherence?

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

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?

(see the answer keys)

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