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 name is the Italian "Giuseppe" transformed into?

2. Which phrase did Oliver Wendell Holmes use to describe the state of the person who makes use of slang?

3. What language did "ambassador," "ancestor," and "bachelor" come into English from?

4. Who was the author of the couplet that Mencken quotes: "For thou art a girl as much brighter than her / As he was a poet sublimer than me"?

5. Who is apparently the first literary critic to point out the "enormous gap between the literate and unliterate American"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

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

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.

(see the answer keys)

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