The American Language


Read by LibriVox Volunteers

(4 stars; 4 reviews)

"It was part of my daily work, for a good many years, to read the principal English newspapers and reviews; it has been part of my work, all the time, to read the more important English novels, essays, poetry and criticism. An American born and bred, I early noted, as everyone else in like case must note, certain salient differences between the English of England and the English of America as practically spoken and written—differences in vocabulary, in syntax, in the shades and habits of idiom, and even, coming to the common speech, in grammar. And I noted too, of course, partly during visits to England but more largely by a somewhat wide and intimate intercourse with English people in the United States, the obvious differences between English and American pronunciation and intonation. Greatly interested in these differences—some of them so great that they led me to seek exchanges of light with Englishmen—I looked for some work that would describe and account for them with a show of completeness, and perhaps depict the process of their origin. I soon found that no such work existed, either in England or in America—that the whole literature of the subject was astonishingly meagre and unsatisfactory." - Summary by Mencken (Preface) (15 hr 41 min)

Chapters

Preface 8:58 Read by DrPGould
Ch1 By Way of Introduction Pt 1The Diverging Streams 9:52 Read by Mike Pelton
Ch1 By Way of Introduction Pt 2 The Academic Attitude 19:30 Read by tommack
Ch1 By Way of Introduction Pt 3 The View of Writing Men 16:11 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch1 By Way of Introduction Pt 4 Foreign Observers 4:37 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch1 By Way of Introduction Pt 5 The Characters of American 22:13 Read by Devorah Allen
Ch1 By Way of Introduction Pt 6 The Materials of American 15:47 Read by Devorah Allen
Ch2 The Beginnings of American Pt 1 In Colonial Days 11:02 Read by Joseph Tabler
Ch2 The Beginnings of American Pt 2 Sources of Early Americanisms 11:29 Read by Devorah Allen
Ch2 The Beginnings of American Pt 3 New Words of English Material 17:36 Read by ToddHW
Ch2 The Beginnings of American Pt 4 Changed Meanings 7:23 Read by ToddHW
Ch2 The Beginnings of American Pt 5 Archaic English Words 7:40 Read by ToddHW
Ch2 The Beginnings of American Pt 6 Colonial Pronunciation 11:32 Read by realisticspeakers
Ch3 The Period of Growth Pt 1 The New Nation 21:57 Read by DrPGould
Ch3 The Period of Growth Pt 2 The Language in the Making 9:44 Read by DrPGould
Ch3 The Period of Growth Pt 3 The Expanding Vocabulary 34:16 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch3 The Period of Growth Pt 4 Loan-Words 29:23 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch3 The Period of Growth Pt 5 Pronunciation 6:52 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch4 American and English Today Pt 1 The Two Vocabularies 18:29 Read by DrPGould
Ch4 American and English Today Pt 2 Differences in Usage 40:53 Read by tommack
Ch4 American and English Today Pt 3 Honorifics 16:45 Read by tommack
Ch4 American and English Today Pt 4 Euphemisms and Forbidden Words 20:51 Read by Austin Lim
Ch5 Tendencies in American Pt 1 International Exchanges 20:35 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch5 Tendencies in American Pt 2 Points of Difference 13:36 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch5 Tendencies in American Pt 3 Lost Distinctions 19:01 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch5 Tendencies in American Pt 4 Foreign Influences Today 24:26 Read by DrPGould
Ch5 Tendencies in American Pt 5 Processes of Word Formation 22:49 Read by realisticspeakers
Ch5 Tendencies in American Pt 6 Pronunciation 28:38 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 1 Grammarians and Their Ways 21:44 Read by realisticspeakers
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 2 Spoken American As It Is 21:55 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 3 The Verb 56:25 Read by DrPGould
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 4 The Pronoun 36:40 Read by DrPGould
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 5 The Adverb 10:09 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 6 The Noun and Adjective 6:37 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 7 The Double Negative 8:23 Read by Devorah Allen
Ch6 The Common Speech Pt 8 Pronunciation 21:56 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch 7 Differences in Spelling Pt 1 Typical Forms 21:43 Read by DrPGould
Ch 7 Differences in Spelling Pt 2 General Tendencies 8:14 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch 7 Differences in Spelling Pt 3 The Influence of Webster 28:30 Read by realisticspeakers
Ch 7 Differences in Spelling Pt 4 Exchanges 21:49 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch 7 Differences in Spelling Pt 5 Simplified spelling 11:06 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch 7 Differences in Spelling Pt 6 Minor Differences 10:23 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch8 Proper Names in America Pt 1 Surnames 49:47 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch8 Proper Names in America Pt 2 Given Names 10:09 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch8 Proper Names in America Pt 3 Geographical Names 41:07 Read by realisticspeakers
Ch8 Proper Names in America Pt 4 Street Names 6:56 Read by Linda Johnson
Ch9 Miscellanea Pt 1 Proverb and Platitude 7:13 Read by Larry Wilson
Ch9 Miscellanea Pt 2 American Slang 23:47 Read by Bruce Pirie
Ch9 Miscellanea Pt 3 The Future of the Language 24:36 Read by realisticspeakers

Reviews

Interesting for the language geeks


(4 stars)

This book, written about 100 years ago, compares American English with British English. It is dense with information, but not too difficult to understand. (Just drowse through the word lists.) I was struck by the differences between the way words were pronounced in the early 1900s and the way they're pronounced now!

For language geeks


(4 stars)

Comprehensive and systematic