- The American Language
"The American Language", first published in 1919, is
H. L. Mencken's book about the English language as spoken in the United States.
Mencken was inspired by "the argot of the colored waiters" in Washington, as well as one of his favorite authors,
Mark Twain, and his experiences on the streets of Baltimore. In 1902, Mencken remarked on the "queer words which go into the making of 'United States.'" The book was preceded by several columns in "The Evening Sun." Mencken eventually asked "Why doesn't some painstaking pundit attempt a grammar of the American language... English, that is, as spoken by the great masses of the plain people of this fair land?" It would appear that he answered his own question.
In the tradition of
Noah Webster, who wrote the first American dictionary, Mencken wanted to defend "Americanisms" against a steady stream of English critics, who usually isolated Americanisms as borderline barbarous perversions of the mother tongue. Mencken assaulted the prescriptive grammarof these critics and American "schoolmarms", arguing, like Samuel Johnsonin the preface to his dictionary, that language evolves independently of textbooks.
The book discusses the beginnings of "American" variations from "English", the spread of these variations, American names and
slangover the course of its 374 pages. According to Mencken, American English was more colorful, vivid, and creative than its British counterpart.
The book sold exceptionally well by Mencken's standards—1400 copies in the first two months. Reviews of the book praised it lavishly, with the exception of one by Mencken's old nemesis,
Mencken released several full-sized supplements to the main volume in ensuing decades, based on the boom in
Many of the sources and research material associated with the book are in the Mencken collection at the
Enoch Pratt Free Libraryin Baltimore, Maryland.
*Hobson, Fred. "Mencken." Random House, New York, 1994.
* [http://www.bartleby.com/185/ "The American Language" - An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States]
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The American Language — Primera página de la edición de 1921, de The American Language. The American Language, (o en español El lenguaje norteamericano ) es un libro escrito por H. L. Mencken que se publicó en 1919, su tema es el idioma inglés tal como se habla en… … Wikipedia Español
The American Language — Page avec le titre de 1921 The American Language (La langue américaine), publié pour la première fois en 1919, est un livre de H. L. Mencken sur la langue anglaise parlée dans les États Unis. Mencken fut inspiré par l « argot des garçons de… … Wikipédia en Français
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