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The American Language Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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Mid-Book Test - Hard

Name: _____________________________ Period: ___________________________

This quiz 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 Topics

An important distinction, which Mencken makes in discussing the nature of the American language, is between the proper speech of literate Americans and the common speech of what he calls the proletariat. Write an essay discussing this distinction and its ultimate significance. According to what Mencken has written, is there a genuine distinction between the two? Which of the two does Mencken appear to favor? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each, the proper and the improper, the formal and the informal? What arguments may be made in defense of each?

An interesting part of speech, according to the analysis Mencken provides, is that of the pronoun. Already a linguistic shortcut, it becomes the subject of even more reductionist changes. Analyze this tendency in an essay, which thoroughly explicates the modern American pronoun. What is the function of the pronoun? For what does it serve as a substitute? What are its relationships with other parts of speech? How do these various elements tend towards the elision of pronouns with other parts of speech? What is significant about this tendency to elide pronouns?

An implicit premise throughout Mencken's work is that of the influence the overall national character and spirit has on the formation of a language. Write an essay discussing and analyzing the possibility and evidence of this connection. What are the national characters of Americans and Englishmen? How is this shown in their languages? What influence do these character traits have on linguistic formulations and habits of the people? What are some specific examples by which this influence can be seen? What is the ultimate significance of this connection?

(see the answer keys)

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