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 makin...more
You either like Mencken or you don't, but one thing no one fact is beyond disagreement: Mencken was arguably the most well-read man of his era, if not all time. It's fitting that a man with no more than an 8th grade formal education compiled what this epic tome on the history of the American language.
And it is the AMERICAN language, the well-worn quip about "two people divided by a co ...more
The main body of the book can be split i ...more
Did you know that "yes, siree!" came from the Irish CCD "Yes, certainly"?
I read this after hearing David Milch describe the writing on ...more
Since reading this book, I've been trying to add some words to my vocabulary. Words like exluncticate, absquatulate, go-ahead-ativeness...
This is a fun book.
This book's 1921 publication date underlines the changing nature of language. Many, many words given as examples here are no longer used in this country 90 years after the publication ...more
This is the 4th ed. (1936): it originally appeared just after the war and was revised in 1921 and again in 1923. In 1945 he published a "sup ...more
At the height o ...more