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 moniker of currency has persisted in America despite having no currency properly of that name?

2. In what language did the American derivative "coyote" originate?

3. How many dialects dominate American English, according to Chapter 1.5?

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

5. What English word does the author of "Men and Manners" lament about the American re-signification?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What is the difference between "rock" in English and in American, as explained in Chapter 2.4?

3. What characterizes the divergences of language usage that are cataloged in Chapter 4.2?

4. Who does Grandgent say are under the influence of the British in terms of their pronunciation?

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

6. Aside from numbering and lettering, what is the principal way in which American and English styles of naming streets are divergent?

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

8. Describe H.L. Mencken's attitude towards the American tendencies in the formation of new words.

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

10. 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?

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

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?

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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