The American Language Test | Final Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What leads most of the studies of the sounds of the American common speech astray, according to Mencken in Chapter 9.10?

2. From which of the following have the English changed their spelling?

3. What was the original name of Brooklyn?

4. Mencken reports hearing of a German named "Knoche," who to avoid being called "Nokky," changed his name to what?

5. Over how many post offices does Mencken state bear the adjective "New"?

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

In describing the ways in which American became a distinct dialect, Mencken ascribes great power to the development of a national literature. Examine the relationship between a national literature and a distinct national dialect. What effect does literature have on its readership? What effect does local speech have on authors? How do authors and the literature they write influence a whole nation? How do they help to make the speech of the whole nation distinct from other nations? What, in particular, emerges from the works of popular authors? What is the overall significance of the relationship between a national literature and a national dialect?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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