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. Whose "gaping maw" often spoils an "apt and ingenious neologism," according to Mencken in Chapter 11.1?

2. According to Mencken, the word "none" is a degenerate composition of what two words?

3. 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"?

4. Which of the following is one of the three great causes of change in language according to Sayce, as reported in Chapter 9.3?

5. How is "Des Moines" pronounced in American, according to Mencken?

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

A significant contributor to the present state of the American language is the influx of foreign words, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. Compose an essay analyzing the impact and influences of these various foreign words. What particular contributions have they made to the language? How do they reflect the overall composition of the American populace? How have these words themselves changed? How have they changed the language overall? How do all of these changes indicate the tendencies of the American English dialect?

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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