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 is the English word for a collection of colleges?

2. Which Founding Father coined the term "to belittle"?

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

4. Which of the following is a term used by philologists to indicate the "instinctive search, etymologically unsound, for short roots in long words"?

5. Where was the broad "a" principally established prior to the Civil War?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What effect did the exploration of new territory have on the language of the American settlers, as described in Chapter 2.3?

3. 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?

4. In what ways is the noun principally abused in vulgar American?

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

6. To what does Mencken ascribe the withdrawal of the National Education Association from the simplified spelling campaign?

7. In Chapter 1.2, whom does Mencken identify as chiefly responsible for the inhibiting of an American dialect?

8. What typifies the difference in the use of honorifics between Americans and the English?

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

10. What is the relationship between the mean and nasty labor done in the United States and the desire of immigrants to change their names?

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

Although American had changed drastically by the time Mencken wrote The American Language, in 1921, it has clearly changed drastically since then, as well. Examine, in an analytical essay, some of the more significant changes since then. What new words have come into popular usage? What then popular Americanisms have faded out almost altogether? Has the language changed as significantly since 1921 as it did between any other comparable span of time? If so, defend your answer with specific examples. Finally, what is the characteristic of the American language as revealed by comparing its present state with that it was characterized by Mencken as having when he wrote The American Language?

Essay Topic 3

Through what Mencken claims concerning the nature of slang, in Chapter 11, it could be construed as a microcosm of The American Language as a whole. Write an essay investigating this claim. What are the chief characteristics of any linguistic development? What are the chief characteristics of the development of slang? How are they alike? How are they different? What processes do they undergo? What is significant and mutually relevant in these processes?

(see the answer keys)

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