The American Language - Study Guide Chapter 9.8 Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 9.8 Summary

Next in his survey of common speech, Mencken focuses on the double negative. He surmises that perhaps vulgar American's chief characteristic is found in its "fidelity" to the double negative. After numerous examples of the double, triple, and quadruple negative, what he calls compound negatives, the writer speaks to how this convention was once acceptable in speech. The Anglo Saxons conventionally placed a form of not in front of a particle; and Shakespeare used it in many of his plays. Today, Mencken adds, the practice of saying, "No, it doesn't..." is easily understood and accepted, not as a double negative but as an implicit single one.

Chapter 9.8 Analysis

The convention of the double negative is for Mencken both remarkable and something to take lightly. In his explication of this tendency, he does not begrudge the ignorance of the incorrectness. He actually opens himself...

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This section contains 342 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.