The American Language - Study Guide Chapter 6.3 Summary & Analysis

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Mencken begins by writing that going back to the first growth of American dialect are these tendencies: a) toward the easy manufacture of new compounds; b) toward the transfer of words from one part of speech to another; c) toward the free use of suffixes and prefixes; and d) toward the easy isolation of roots and pseudoroots. He gives examples of these linguistic tendencies, showing how a word evolves from generation to generation. Determining that these three kinds of tendencies are especially active among the verbs and nouns, he offers further examples, including those formed in a humorous manner.

The writer continues, showing how the process of word formation next concerns blends, or portmanteau words. These words are combinations of two existing words to form a third, or are words given suffixes to identify something analogous. He explains that such new word-formation is done to "make...

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This section contains 652 words
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The American Language from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.