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Comment: Hardcover. no DJ, 4th edition 5th printing, 1938, Gently used with modest show of wear, hinges slightly cracked but holding strong, For Additional Information or pictures, Please Inquire. Previous Owner name plate inside,
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The American Language Unknown Binding – 1946


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; Fourth Edition edition (1946)
  • ASIN: B0014UM1U2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,686,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
The servi e was great and very timely.
Judy C. Jones
I do have to stress "really", since it is very detailed and not everyone cares about the history of a language.
Osmun R. Latrobe
If you want meticulous detail on the historyu and the divergence from the British English, snap this book up.
Jacob Blair

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Blair on May 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
We all knew Mencken was a master of wit, but little did we know that his mastery of words could also be introspective to the language itself. As a linguistics major, I found this tome extremely interesting. If you want meticulous detail on the historyu and the divergence from the British English, snap this book up. If you're still not satisfied, hunt around for the appedices he wrote later in his life.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth John Atchity on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Whether you're wondering about given names or surnames,place names or euphemisms--or just the ageold rivalry between British and American English and your love of the language they sometimes share--this is a must-have reference book for professional storytellers by one of the greatest wits in either tradition.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patrick McHugh on August 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We use American English to write. We use American English to speak. American English is the means by which half the world population communicates with each other. So why not spend a little time understanding how the American language came into being. How American English was scorned by England for so many years (and still to this day), and how American English eventually overpowered British English. After reading this book, and then stepping back to see the flow of history, you will surely discover the power of culture and its influence upon language, and vice versa. I think this is a must read for anyone who wishes to become a craftsman in the field of writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Oksol VINE VOICE on July 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Where else could you find the following (in a footnote, p. 427):

The subjunctive "be," of course is extinct. in the plural "are" is commonly used correctly. The use of "is" in the first and second persons singular and in all persons of the plural is a Negroism, though it is also observed occasionally among the lowest classes of Southern whites. There is a familiar story illustrating its use. A customer goes into a store and asks, "You-all ain't got no aigs, is you?" The storekeeper replies, "I ain't said I ain't," whereupon the customer retorts in dudgeon, "I ain't axed you is you ain't; I axed you is you is. Is you?" In the negative, whether singular or plural, "ain't" is employed almost universally; "am not," "is not" and "are not" are used only for emphasis, and "aren't" is unknown.

Incredible masterpiece. A philologist's dream. Would-be novelists would do well to page through this gem.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Nobody was safe from the vituperative pen of the self-appointed dean of the attackers of parochialism, provincialism, patriotism, puritanism, philistinism, prohibition. In between, he took some parting shots at college professors and women. He coined a new word `Booboisie,' which to him signified those whom he considered to be intellectualism's weakest link. He was an elitist who had no love for democracy, the common man, or anyone else who disagreed with his exalted opinions. He leaves no doubt in THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE that he bemoans the lack of an educated, ruling class in America: `The capital defect in the culture of These States (phrase borrowed from Whitman) is the lack of a civilized aristocracy, secure in its position, animated by an intellectual curiosity, skeptical of all facile generalizations, superior to the sentimentality of the mob (mob: a term often used by Mencken), and delighting in the battle of ideas for its own sake.' Mencken sees a fake aristocracy of intellectual has-beens, wanna-bes, and never-wases as constituting the current ruling intellectual clique: `But this bugaboo aristocracy is actually bogus, and the evidence of its bogusness lies in the fact that it is insecure.' He would much rather see `a genuine aristocracy founded upon very much different principles. Its first and most salient character is its interior security.' He bitterly adds: `No such aristocracy...is now on view in the United States.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Travelr on May 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had read this was an incredible book. I didn't research the book prior to buying it and so it surprised me that it was written in such a "textbook" style. (This was my fault) I am not a fan of that type of writing unfortunately. :) That being said, I have still enjoyed reading it and it is very informative. If you are a Linguist, this book would be invaluable. Even though I am not a linguist and I don't necessarily enjoy the writing style, I intend to keep the book and keep reading as the information is so interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Stoner on December 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I can't really say I *read* it so much as I *scanned* it. Although I did read a fair amount of the beginning chapters citing early intense disapproval of "Americanisms" such as "lengthy." There is good material here for writers looking for authentic slang terms of the 1930's (when this edition was published) and for ways in which your own ancestral tongue dealt with Americanization. My favorite quote is from an early quarrel between Daniel Webster and an Englishman: W-"Words and expressions will be forced into use, in spite of all the exertions of all the writers in the world." E-"But surely, such innovations are to be deprecated." When Webster asks why, the Englishman replies, "Because there are words enough already."
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