The American Language - Chapter 9.3 Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 9.3 Summary

Mencken discusses the verb at great length. He claims in his introduction to this chapter that the peculiarities of American speech originate primarily in the verbs and pronouns, so he explores verb usage to start. After explaining the existence and decay of noun cases, the writer transitions to the current verb conjunctions in use, and citing Lardner and Charters, gives examples of the more familiar American verb conjugations.

He continues by quoting Sayce on the causes of changes to language in general. These causes include "1) imitation or analogy, 2) a wish to be clear and emphatic, and 3) laziness." The third cause is likely how verb conjugation went from strong to weak. Exploring further, he concedes that though his ideas for changes in verb phenomena are not based on any law but on gut instinct, it is possible to discern logical causes but safer to stay with...

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This section contains 485 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.