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. 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?

2. How many pages in "The King's English" are dedicated to explaining the distinction between "will" and "shall"?

3. What does Sayce say that language is composed of in 1879?

4. Which term do English dictionaries all describe as an Americanism from the comparative list in Chapter 4.1, despite the English version being frequently used in America?

5. Whom does Mencken use to exemplify the flouting of linguistic purity in Chapter 6.1?

Short Essay Questions

1. What was Walt Whitman's role in the development of the national literature of the United States?

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

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

4. For what reason did the early Americans wish to distinguish their language from that of the English?

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

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

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

8. What does Mencken imply about the vulgar American usage of forms such as "yourn," "hisn," and "theirn," in Chapter 9.4?

9. Under what situation does language undergo great changes and renew its vitality, according to Mencken in Chapter 9.1?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

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 3

There is a very notable and significant difference between the neologisms of the Americans and the British. Write an essay analyzing these differences, their sources, and what the neologisms reveal about the respective national characters. What is characteristic about the neologisms Mencken ascribes to Americans? What are the characteristics of those ascribed to the British? How are these different? How are they similar? How does each country come about fostering their neologisms? What do these methods and their sources reveal about the countries and their national characteristics, respectively?

(see the answer keys)

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