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. As what part of speech does vulgar American consider the word "self" within the spirit of the language?

2. Who does Mencken quote as saying, "There is no part of the world where nomenclature is so rich, poetical, humorous and picturesque as in the United States of America"?

3. Which of the following nations does Mencken not list as having more interesting war slang than the Americans during the Great War?

4. In what sort of languages are double negatives "perfectly allowable"?

5. In what language does Mencken state the double negative was once "quite respectable?"

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

Write an essay investigating the various ways in which language can diverge into two or more dialects, using the principles found in Mencken's The American Language. What are the principal sources of its divergences? What are the primary ways in which it actually diverges? What characterizes these divergences? How is this shown, particularly, in the American dialect?

(see the answer keys)

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