The American Language Test | Lesson Plans Final Test - Hard

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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. From what newspaper does Mencken derive the story with which he opens Chapter 11.2?

2. To what do English writers usually ascribe the American custom of numbering and lettering streets?

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

4. Which of the following is the analogate to which Mencken compares the slang words overused by the ignorant?

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

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Unlike nouns and adjectives, Mencken devotes considerable inquiry to the nature and alteration of verb forms in The American Language. Write an essay explaining the attention that Mencken pays to verbs. What role do they fulfill in communication? Why do its particular forms change more rapidly than other parts of speech? What does this rapid changing indicate about the relationship between language and circumstance/culture? How do verbs typically change? What is significant about the manner in which they typically change?

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

Part of the driving force behind the divergence of American from British, is what Americans rather distinctly desire to express in language, according to Mencken. Write an essay discussing these desires of which Mencken implicitly speaks. What is the American concerned with in his language? What obstacles in linguistic form can stand between him and his desires? What then happens to these obstacles? What happens to language overall? Are there any dangers in these tendencies? If so, what are they? What is the fundamental relationship between the desires of a populace and their linguistic form?

(see the answer keys)

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