The American Language Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, Nelson examines the difficulty scholars have had in evaluating the impact The American Language and Mencken have had on linguistics.

Probably no one would take exception to [Raven] McDavid's observation that "a tremendous growth took place in American linguistics between the first edition of The American Language in 1919 and the fourth in 1936", but not everyone would feel entirely comfortable with his implication of a causal relationship. Mencken's influence on linguistics has proved difficult to evaluate, in part because it has been primarily literary and inspirational. Mencken kept to his own haunts and developed his own procedures, in which circumstance or accident sometimes played a part. He had no students who would institutionalize his ideas and developed no subfield to be identified with him. That is to say, he did not behave in ways that would make him comparable to the specialized, scientifically oriented...

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This section contains 3,702 words
(approx. 10 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The American Language Study Guide
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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.